Oldmachar church feels the place to be for new minister
Published on 14 November 2022 4 minutes read
Even before this week's induction at Oldmachar Parish Church, new minister Rev Darren Jalland knows he will feel at home in the Aberdeen parish.
Mr Jalland, who is taking up his first charge with the Church of Scotland, made an immediate connection with the Bridge of Don church when he visited to preach as sole nominee.
"It felt right from the moment I was there," he said.
"I was told when I was going through training that when I found the place God was calling me to, that I would just know. That has very much been my experience.
"It feels like a place I could feel at home, be a part of the community and make a positive difference."
Brought up in Kent and Essex, Mr Jalland only began attending church regularly after meeting his wife Mary, but by the time they were living Dorset, he was already much involved in the life of his own church, Swanage United Reformed Church, leading worship and preaching both there and at the local Salvation Army Hall, and was considering training as a lay preacher.
Those plans were put on hold after the Jalland family moved to Falkirk in 2005, but after a few years, Mr Jalland began feeling a call and began training as a reader, the Church of Scotland's equivalent of lay preacher.
"I did not think I was being called to full-time ministry - there were just so many areas of it that I thought I would be appallingly bad at," he said.
"But people began asking me if I was sure I wanted to do readership rather than full-time ministry and that started sowing the seeds in my mind."
So, after much thought and prayer, he decided to put his doubts aside.
"Yes, there will be some things I won't be particularly good at, but that doesn't matter because I won't be alone because there are always people around and God has got me. Once I came to that realisation, I took the plunge," he said.
Connecting with the community
Because he had already begun studying remotely with Highland Theological College in Dingwall, he was able to complete his qualifications in two years instead of the usual three, backed up by practical experience with placements at Cumbernauld Old Church, Dunblane Cathedral and Abbotsgrange Church in Grangemouth, and a probationary period at Cambuslang.
These different experiences of church life have prepared Mr Jalland for his mission in the Bridge of Don area.
"Oldmachar is a suburban area with a lot of people of working age and young families. These are the people we need to connect with in the Church, and I think Oldmachar is a good place to do that," he said.
Lying close to the University of Aberdeen, Oldmachar also has a large student population, and Mr Jalland already has a connection with the student population in the city as the youngest of his three children, son Jamie, is studying architecture at Robert Gordon University.
Message of hope
Mr Jalland's background is in insurance and financial services, where he worked in a number of roles including advising clients and coaching colleagues.
He hopes to be able to use the lessons and experience of his past career in his new role as minister.
"What particularly comes to mind are the coaching skills," he added.
"A big part of my job was to help people develop in their interests and their strengths in the role they were in.
"Especially in the current day and age, I think it is important for everybody to use the gifts they have been given to make the Church run properly as the body of Christ. We need people to identify what their gifts are and helping them to do that is really important to me."
With wife Mary being a teacher, Mr Jalland is also well placed to work with local schools and hopes to apply some of the lessons learned from working alongside youth support charity Cambuslang and Rutherglen Reachout Trust at his last church.
"I want to see what we can do to help young people by doing more than just going in once a month to an assembly, but giving them real spiritual life skills with a Biblical base that will be really useful in the years ahead," he said.
However, at a time when he believes people are crying out for the Gospel and its promise of hope, Mr Jalland's prime mission will be to help the people of the congregation bring that message of hope to the whole community.
"There are things I want to do in terms of making connections and getting to know people, but beyond that, what I really want to see is growth," he said.
"That's not necessarily just growth in numbers, but growth in faith.
"How we get there, I have no idea, but I do not mind that. I will find out about the gifts of the congregation when I get there and they are the people who know better what their gifts and needs are than I do, so I want to walk with them.
"That is really important to me. A minister is a member of the church family, but the most transient part of it because you are gone after a few years. The people you are walking with are there for life, so it has to be a partnership."