Rev Ann Knox begins ministry at Inchinnan

A Gourock woman who was so shy when she left school that she "didn't have the nerve to go to university and could never have imagined speaking in public" has been welcomed into her first post as minister for Inchinnan Parish Church in Renfrewshire.

Rev Ann Knox
Rev Ann Knox

Rev Ann Knox says during her 18-year career in the engineering department of National Semi-Conductor she gained the confidence to become a Church minister. She started out as an engineering aide and rose to become a supervisor before studying for the ministry.

"I grew to be able to stand up for myself, talk to people and take decisions," Mrs Knox says. "I think it was God's way of getting me ready for ministry."

Mrs Knox, 52, who grew up within the congregation of St John's in Gourock, said her faith led her to a Vocations conference in 2005. But with three children under the age of 12 she did not feel it was the right time to start studying for a university degree and to complete all the requirements for ordination.

By then she was working as a church secretary and she continued to mull over invitations to vocations events. Still she hesitated despite encouragment from her minister Rev Jill Clancy.

"I thought I wanted a sign from God showing me that he wanted me to become a minister," she says.

Then in 2007, she was reading the book Disappointment with God by best-selling evangelical author Phillip Yancey and was struck by a passage about God's silence with Joseph and Moses. Three days later when the same subject came up at an elders conference she says everything just clicked into place.

"I had the overwhelming sense that God was telling me, 'I've asked and you have to answer. You're not getting a sign.'" she says.

Training for ministry turned out to be everything she had hoped for. And she values the encouragement she has received from mentors and supervisors and also from her fellow ministers in training and her probation supervisor, Rev Karen Harbison. All of these key people, she says, have inspired and sustained her on her journey.

"I learned something new at every new placement," she says. "I appreciate all the guidance I have had. God takes you places where he wants you to go. I definitely felt that the timing turned out to be perfect."

Today as her children approach independence--her daughter is 22 and her sons are 15 and 17--Mrs Knox says her main responsibility is for Molly the family dog, a labrador-boxer mix.

"I love walking Molly the dog and I am a bit of a rugby fanatic," she says. "I support Greenock Wanderers, Glasgow Warriors and of course our Scottish national team."

She didn't know much about the Inchinnan parish before discovering the congregation was looking for a minister. But when she visited in September 2016, she quickly developed a strong bond with the congregation and the parish.

“The thing that attracted me to Inchinnan was the people. There is a really good mix with a lot of young people, as well as the older generations, and I’m looking forward very much to trying to help them all grow in their faith.”

At Inchinnan Mrs Knox is close to supportive friends including Rev Jonathan Fleming in Erskine, whom she met at university and Rev Yvonne Smith in Bishopton, another university friend and companion at candidate and probationer conferences. She is also looking forward to the arrival of another fellow probationer who is scheduled to be inducted as minister to a nearby parish soon.

"Everyone has been very kind and friendly and I feel very much at home here," she says.

"The Inchinnan congregation is very much aware of the past and its traditions as the church can trace it's history back to 597 AD, and although the building is new it includes artefacts like sculptured stones from the old church which date back to 900 AD, as well as a pulpit, font and communion table that along with the beautiful old stained glass windows are 600 years old .

"So church members have this sense of faith enduring over the centuries, yet at the same time they are very keen to move forward and spread out with our Christian message of love."

Find out more about becoming a Church of Scotland minister.

Apply to attend a Vocations Conference