New minister for north-east church

A former professional musician has been inducted as the minister of an Aberdeenshire church.

Rev Rodolphe Blanchard-Kowal, who is French, will serve at Portlethen Parish Church for three years.

The post was arranged through the Ministries Council and the World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland, which is partnered with his denomination, the United Protestant Church of France.

Rev Rodolphe Blanchard-Kowal,
Rev Rodolphe Blanchard-Kowal and his wife Virginie and children outside Portlethen Parish Church.

Mr Blanchard-Kowal, who was ordained as a minister six years ago, is no stranger to the north-east.

The 44-year-old, who is married to Virginie with whom he has three children, spent a month training at St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen in 2007.

Mr Blanchard-Kowal, who grew up in Paris and led a church in Cognac in the south-west of France, said: “I am very pleased to have been inducted into Portlethen Parish Church.

“I love Scotland and the north-east is a very familiar area so that is why I chose to come here.”

Pure

Mr Blanchard-Kowal said his new congregation had given him and his family a very warm welcome since their arrival last month.

“Everyone is very friendly and I am adjusting to different things,” he added.

“I come from a country where Protestants are a minority group but here in Scotland, it is the main church for the people.

“Ministers are well known in the community here compared to France where most people just know the Catholic priest.”

Mr Blanchard-Kowal said his wife and children, Paul, 14, Louis, 12, and Zacharie, 3, had fallen in love with Aberdeenshire.

“We enjoy the outdoors, walking in the hills, forests and on the seashore where we have been very lucky to see dolphins,” he added.

“We love the Cairngorms National Park and what I appreciate a lot is the fresh air which is very good for sport and being healthy.

“The water is very pure – I really enjoy this climate but I have not experienced winter yet.”

Rev Rodolphe Blanchard-Kowal,
Rev Rodolphe Blanchard-Kowal

Mr Blanchard-Kowal was a professional Baroque musician before becoming a minister.

“I plan to play a lot of music during my time in Portlethen and will perform at a concert in the Jubilee Hall with my family next month,” he added.

“My wife is a singer and my two oldest children play the harpsicord.”

Portlethen Parish Church has been without a permanent minister since December, 2015 when Rev Dr Flora Munro retired.

Ministry

Session Clerk Alison Harris said: "We are thoroughly delighted to welcome Rev Rodolphe Blanchard-Kowal and his family.

"We look forward to working with him, sharing customs and being a family together.

"It will be a different experience as we will learn more about the world and probably ourselves too.
"Rodolphe and his young family are very musical.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the church as we have many young families here.

"The town is very vibrant in music too as we have a ceilidh band, concert band and orchestra at Portlethen Academy."

World Mission Council Twinning and Local Development Secretary Carol Finlay said: “Having supported Rodolphe Blanchard-Kowal when he was a Faithshare Partner at St Machar’s Cathedral, we are delighted that he and his family have returned to Scotland and look forward to sharing in his ministry.