Two new ministers ordained and inducted into Glasgow Presbytery

A former NHS worker and a John Lewis employee have been ordained and inducted into their first charges in the Presbytery of Glasgow.

Rev Gillian Rooney has taken up her role at Giffnock Orchardhill Church, and Rev Laura Digan at Whiteinch Parish Church.

Rev Gillian Rooney with her family
Rev Gillian Rooney with her family

For Gillian, her previous job as an occupational therapist has some overlap with becoming a minister.

"I was at the NHS for 20 years, working to get people home and now I'll be with people as they journey to their eternal home," she says.

"I would look after people for a short period and I realised I wanted to be able to look after people's longer-term spiritual needs too.

"I'd see people for a snapshot and wonder how they were - being a minister is an opportunity to journey with people for longer.

A theology degree with Highland Theological College allowed Gillian the flexibility of distanced learning, but she still found a supportive community there whilst she was studying.

For her ordination, Gillian was delighted that people were able to attend from Orkney, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

On choosing Giffnock Orchardhill Church as her first charge, Gillian explains that it was an unusual situation because whilst she was on probation there the minister Rev Grant Barclay left to become the Interim Presbytery Clerk of Glasgow.

"I've had the opportunity to be a locum here for the last year," she says.

"I was attracted to what I've experienced here and when I started looking at places I kept comparing them to Orchardhill.

"What's in the forefront of my mind is how we can look outwards after a period where it's been about online worship.

"The church as a focus point for the community is one of my priorities.

"We started a tots group for toddlers and parents last summer and I'm keen that we help to look after the mental health of people in the parish.

"I'll be looking at what we can offer the community."

Dreaming of being a minister

Speaking about her new role, Laura, who previously worked in internal communications for John Lewis and prefers not to use the title of reverend, explained that she had dreamt of being a minister since she was a child.

Laura Digan is the new minister of Whiteinch.
Laura Digan is the new minister of Whiteinch.

"When my parents were on cleaning duty at the church, I'd go along, climb up into the pulpit and pretend to be a minister," she says.

"It was my dream but I kept it to myself as I didn't think God would want me as at that time all the ministers I knew were men - serious men at that!

"I studied English at university, and a job came up at John Lewis building the brand culture in the new contact centres, which I loved.

"I was also involved with music and played in some pop/rock bands.

"I'd grown up in church, but stopped going because I'd be working on the weekends, but when I started a Monday to Friday job I started to go back and got more involved in the life of the church.

"God was calling me but I was ignoring it for a long while.

"I told my mum I wanted to go to an enquirers conference as my mum would be the one to tell me if I was being daft, but she and my minister supported my decision.

"I was choosing between the diaconate and being a minister and actually chose the diaconate but I was able to change to training to be a minister of word and sacrament part-way through my first year."

With the help of a dream Laura realised she wanted to be a Minister of Word and Sacrament role.

"I had a dream where I had to help a minister give communion to loads of people queuing outside the church, but I just sat there and the minister came back in and asked "why are you faffing about, just do it?"."

She chose to go to the Whiteinch congregation because "they have been on my heart a while".

"They're committed to following the pattern of five-fold ministry and they're a vibrant loving community."

Another aspect that appealed to Laura is there is no church building and the congregation meet in the local community hall.

"I really like not being tied to a building," she says.

Over the next few months, Laura plans to "meet everyone and get to know them over a meal so we all can begin planning for the future together".

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a minister of word and sacrement, find out more on our dedicated Vocations page.