Former actor set apart as a Reader
Published on 6 September 2023 3 minutes read
A former actor and council worker has been set apart as a Reader, and will now serve the Presbytery of Glasgow.
Graham MacGregor's new role will see him provide Ministry of Word to congregations, such as taking services where he is needed in the local area.
A full-time carer for his mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, Mr MacGregor is passionate about ensuring no one feels excluded from the Church.
"In my ministry God's love is for everyone," he says.
"One of my supervisors said always leave your congregation with a message of hope."
Mr MacGregor, who is 61 and from Cambuslang, explained that although he had joined the Church of Scotland at 23, he had not always felt welcome.
"As a younger man I felt the church wasn't inclusive – but you come back as you know that God is calling you.
"It's an amazing journey once you give over to God."
Asked about the highlights of ministry, the one-time stage performer says that preaching is an "immense privilege".
"You meet people whose faith enriches your faith," he adds.
"It's not one way and it continues to inspire you on your journey.
"God is always there working in the background."
In his 50s, Mr MacGregor began to feel a calling to serve the Church.
"I'd gone through a very bad patch in my life with a lot of pain and I realised God reveals himself in our inner suffering," he said.
After attending a vocations conference in 2015, Mr MacGregor discovered he would not meet the age criteria to become a Minister of Word and Sacrament but a discernment placement helped to show him that the right path was Readership.
In 2017 he did his first placement as part of the training, and also began to do distance learning with the University of Aberdeen, all whilst working.
However, COVID prevented Mr MacGregor from taking up a second placement, delaying his training.
Despite this set-back, the Presbytery of Glasgow were eventually able to place him with Tron St Mary's Church under Rev Rhona MacDonald.
"What a wonderful experience that was – a wee church with a big heart," he said.
"In many ways I feel I blossomed there, it was joyous for me there.
"They were so kind and supportive.
"God always finishes what He starts.
"You hold onto this and that gives you the strength and courage that you'll get through."
Explaining what the new role will involve, Mr MacGregor said:
"Readers are Ministers of Word. You can take a service, you can be involved in pulpit supply, you can be part of a ministry team. You are serving the church and serving where there is a need in the Presbytery."
As part of services, the retired pantomime star sees storytelling as a vital part of teaching others about religion, stating "it's all part of my drama training. All your past experience you can use."
Advising those who might want to pursue a role within the Church of Scotland, he said:
"Anyone who has a feeling that God is calling them go forward with it as you never know where it might lead.
"Maybe you'll say ministry of Word and Sacrament isn't for me, but maybe you'll find the Diaconate is for you.
"The journey is joyous, you feel it in your heart. The love and the support and the kindness that I've experienced over my journey has been overwhelming."
Mr MacGregor's setting apart took place on Thursday 24 August at Cambuslang Parish Church, which he described as "amazing".
"I was overwhelmed – so blessed with so much love."