New Deacon proud to follow in Edinburgh kirk’s long tradition of service
Published on 4 January 2023 3 minutes read
Deacons within the Church of Scotland offer a pastoral ministry of word and service, supporting congregations and the wider community.
Deacons can also often be the face of the Church for many who would never attend a service as deacons work in hospitals, care homes, prisons and other locations, as well as alongside ministers in parishes. There are currently 31 active deacons in the Church of Scotland, with 13 employed by the Kirk and the remaining 18 employed by other agencies.
The newest member of the Church of Scotland Diaconate is Kirsty Forsyth, who was ordained and inducted as a deacon at Richmond Craigmillar Church in Edinburgh just before Christmas.
Kirsty, who worked as a paramedic before embarking on full-time service with the Church, admitted she had known little about the Diaconate.
"I hadn't met or come across any Deacons. It was only when I began my journey looking at where God might be leading me that I heard about the Diaconate," she said.
"It was actually a friend of mine who mentioned the Diaconate, so I decided to start exploring that and find out a bit more."
Kirsty was able to learn more about the work of local deacons at the Church of Scotland's annual Heart and Soul festival in Princes Street Gardens.
"They were really supportive and the call to the Diaconate became stronger and stronger," she said.
After studying theology at New College in Edinburgh, Kirsty completed her probationary period at Richmond Craigmillar and fellow Edinburgh church Duddingston Kirk.
She also had a placement at St Martin's Parish Church and with all three kirks now part of the same grouping she hopes to be able to continue working with them all, although Richmond Craigmillar will be her main focus.
Serving the community
As a parish deacon at Richmond Craigmillar, Kirsty will help minister Rev Liz Henderson with worship, getting involved with the children's Sunday Club and by conducting funerals and other services. She will also be involved in other aspects of the church's work as an active part of the community.
"One of the things I am excited about at Richmond Craigmillar is that the church is a place where people can get help and we have seen quite an increase in that demand over the Christmas period," Kirsty said.
"On a Thursday we have our Fair Share project, where we help support people with food and clothing, which has been quite a big thing for us this winter. Just before Christmas we had at least 66 people, which is quite an increase. Before that we would usually see around 45."
The church also hopes to further support the local community by offering free soup and a warm space in its café.
As part of her parish duties, Kirsty is also involved with Richmond Craigmillar's own bereavement group, which ties in with a presbytery-wide project she is also involved with as part of her duties.
Kirsty explained: "I am working on a bereavement project for Edinburgh and West Lothian Presbytery, looking at the type of bereavement work that is happening across the presbytery, be that funeral visits or bereavement group gatherings or some kind of memorial service.
"I am hoping to build on Rev Liz Henderson's work with Richmond Craigmillar's adult bereavement group to look at what is working and look at different grief theories and talk with people across the presbytery about what we do at funerals, how we help people through bereavement and learning from what other people do as well."
Passing on the baton
This may be a new element to the work of a deacon, but Kirsty is aware that she is the latest in a long tradition of service in the parish.
"Richmond has a long history of deacons," she said.
"One of the previous deacons, Marion Stewart, gave me one of the deaconess badges from the 1930s and meeting other deacons who have worked in the parish and learning some of the history has been special for me as well.
"It feels almost like a passing on of the baton."
To find out more about the Diaconate in the Church of Scotland, visit our website.