New Fife minister has mission to make a difference
Published on 29 October 2022 5 minutes read
Christian service might run in the family for Fife's newest minister, but it was a path he never expected to follow – and, as someone who grew up in India, he had never considered ministry in the Church of Scotland.
Yet when the call to ministry came, his answer was an enthusiastic yes.
Rev Josh Milton was ordained as the first minister of the joint charge of Templehall and Torbain in Kirkcaldy on Thursday October 27, in a service led by Rt Rev Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
For Mr Milton, who was brought up in the south-east Indian city of Chennai, it means he is following in a family tradition.
"My parents are pastors," he explained.
"My great-grandfather was the first Christian in the family as a Hindu convert and most of my extended family are pastors and have planted many churches across India. But ministry never appealed to me as a career!"
Mr Milton instead opted to study software engineering and literature, and began a career in the IT sector.
However, his questions about life and its purpose led him to study at Glasgow's International Christian College, where he became involved with youth work. This introduced him to the Church of Scotland, which he found a big contrast to his non-denominational upbringing in India.
Yet, despite the differences, Mr Milton felt a profound experience of his faith being strengthened, leading him to believe he had been called to Scotland to serve.
After his studies, he spent more than 10 years working with local churches in the Stirling area, where he focussed on families and young people.
As a music producer, Mr Milton used his production skills to enable young people in the schools he worked with to explore their concerns and creativity by helping them write and record songs.
He said: "All of these songs came from real life experience, challenges and inner struggle. Themes like hope, faith and love are pertinent to their lives, and out of these songwriting exercises, discussions around faith and spirituality were explored. Many expressed their faith in Jesus in different ways."
Encouraged by others to enter the ministry, Mr Milton felt called to serve within the Church of Scotland and share some of his family's experience of mission and planting new churches.
"The recently united Templehall and Torbain Church is missional at heart, and it's clearly demonstrated through their ministries," he said.
"It is also evident that they are a self-sufficient church. The church's elders and the members of the congregation are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work.
"It would be my privilege to work closely together with the members of the congregation. I would seek to use their wealth of gifts and build a robust team ministry as I believe Templehall and Torbain United Parish Church will come to life when we serve together as a team.
"There are a lot of expectations as the first minister of the joint charge, but I really feel that that the main thing is that I am a pastor and everything will fall into place if I keep that at the forefront."
Fun, food, fellowship and faith
The parish already has its own youth worker, Lauren Jones, and Mr Milton is looking forward to working with her and young families in the area, providing them not only with opportunities to worship, but to socialise and enjoy some quality time in family groups. He hopes to bring people together for barbecues or indoor gatherings in a mix of "fun, food, fellowship and faith," which he views as not too far from the pattern set by Jesus' own ministry.
"Jesus went to where the people were, so today's Church has to go to where the people are rather than expect them to come to us," Mr Milton said.
"Jesus presents the Kingdom of God to everyone who's out there – people who don't know him, people who don't have a relationship with him, and people who disagree with him.
"In this ever-changing world, I seek to offer worship that is relational, inclusive and welcoming of all people. I believe that the default language of the Christian faith is the language of love and compassion. This language of love can heal wounds, and gives hope and peace to all who come to the cross.
"Hence, we need to move from the idea of just a Sunday morning service and provide something that is relevant and practical to people's lives. The more we can do that, the more the Church grows."
His appointment follows placements at St Serf's Church in Tullibody and Dunblane Cathedral, interspersed with a US placement in Charlotte in North Carolina, followed by a probationary period at St Ninian's Church in Dunfermline.
More recently he has been working with Dunfermline North Parish Church and the Glenrothes Area Covenanted Partnership which brings together six churches in the Glenrothes area. The experience has helped prepare him for his first charge, but also made him optimistic about the future for the Church in Scotland.
Mr Milton said: "It is always important that the Church aims to be connected in a real and meaningful way.
"Our God is alive, and He is alive in us through His spirit. When we demonstrate God's love in words and actions, there will be many opportunities for us to serve."