Talking ministry: Rev Gillian Paterson on the joy of being part of the community

Rev Gillian Paterson
Rev Gillian Paterson.

A minister has spoken of the "great joy" at being able to work closely with the local community within her Priority Area parish.

Rev Gillian Paterson, who was interviewed as part of the monthly 'Talking Ministry' series, described her congregation at Wellesley Parish Church in Methil as "one of the best there is because they work so hard".

"The thing I've learnt the most is about the generosity of people here," she said.

"The generosity of the people in the time, their skills and their talents are what inspires me day by day.

"Poverty levels are high, and it can be tough sometimes, but it's because I worry about the people who are living with what they're living with.

"You're leading a team in a parish like this - you're not the one person doing everything as you can't possibly do that, there's too much need for that."

Wanting to do more

With a background of 17 years as a stewardship consultant for the Church of Scotland giving her the opportunity to work with "hundreds of congregations", Gillian realised she felt called towards ministry.

"I loved that role, but the more involved I got the more I began to feel like I wanted to do more.

"In my home congregation my minister was extremely encouraging of me and got me involved with worship and convening a committee.

"All of which I can see now was preparing me for ministry.

A series of family bereavements helped Gillian to realise she could help people who were going through similar experiences.

Initially she entered training to become an auxiliary minister but realised that parish ministry was her calling and was able to change.

Part of the community

Along the way, Gillian says she has been surprised by "how much people still value the parish minister".

"People tend to think the church is irrelevant these days and that we're in a secular society, but that doesn't apply here in Methil.

"People will still turn to the minister and I get loads of phone calls where people are looking for support.

"For me that's a real blessing as it means we are part of the community.

"There's a really high pastoral need and I do over 100 funerals a year.

"We're still very much the parish church and we also do a lot of weddings."

Get involved

Her advice for someone who is feeling called to ministry is volunteer within your congregation or community.

"You never know what journey you might be taken on and you'll surprise yourself," she says.

"Don't resist it - God has a way of prompting you.

"Getting experience is the most important thing and don't get scared."

Read more

Each month throughout 2022, the Talking Ministry series will share a personal story from those serving in Christian ministry, as well as discernment resources filled with questions, prayers and reflections to help encourage your own reflection on how God might be calling you.

You can read Rev Gillian Paterson's full interview and access the resources for February on our Talking Ministry page.