Keen photographer Andy is focussing on ministry career
Published on 16 August 2023 3 minutes read
Asking questions about what it means to be a Christian set Rev Andy Muir on a path that would lead to studying for his first degree 30 years after he left school, and the beginning of a new career as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Church of Scotland.
Mr Muir, who will mark the first anniversary of his induction as minister of Stranraer Parish Church at the end of September, first began attending church as a child in Ayr with his mother and grandmother.
Although his church attendance tailed off as he grew older, he never lost his faith and renewed his kirk connections in his forties after attending an Alpha course.
However, this still left him with questions and a need to explore his faith further.
"I realised that so many people around me in the church had a much better understanding of their faith than I did and so I asked my minister if the church had any courses that I could do," he explained.
"He pointed me to the Highland Theological College (HTC) Access Course, telling me not to worry about what the intended purpose of the course was, but recommending that I chose only one or two modules, perhaps just the Old and New Testament.
"This was to be the start of a real hunger."
Challenges and chances
As he completed his modules with the HTC, Mr Muir began worship team training with his local presbytery and the rewards of helping serve others, along with a personal experience of the Holy Spirit, encouraged him to consider a future in the ministry.
"Although, at the time it seemed there were many challenges, uncertainties, and obstacles that lay ahead, looking back now, my journey actually took a perfectly straight line from beginning to end," he said.
He continued his studies with HTC, but this time with the aim of completing a degree in theology – a prospect he admits he found terrifying 30 years on from leaving school and with his HTC modules his only recent experience of higher education. However, his hunger and determination saw him go on to achieve the degree he needed to move on to the next stage of his path to ministry as he gained practical experience of ministry in placements in a variety of churches, followed by probation at Penninghame Parish Church.
"I had so many opportunities, to experience new things, and to try things for myself, and my supervisor was so helpful and insightful. When I look back, I realise just how lucky I have been with all my placements," he said.
He has been able to draw on these experiences, along with the continued support of his wife Shona, in his first few months as minister in Stranraer. These last few months have seen the congregation grow week on week, and provided Mr Muir with the chance to share the Good News of Jesus within the church and beyond.
Still in the early days of ministry, he knows he has a lot more to achieve, but is looking forward to the challenge.
"I haven't been able to start a Sunday school yet, which I know is essential for the future, but I have every faith that the help needed to do this will come in God's time," he added.
As for anyone else contemplating ministry, his own experience shows that that there are no barriers for anyone who feels called to serve.
"If you think you are being called, explore that call," he said.
"Regardless of your financial situation at present or your academic capability, if God is calling you to serve, he will clear the paths, and he will make things possible in ways that you would never imagine possible.
"Trust in God, and take that leap of faith!"
Each month, 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 Andy Muir's full interview and access the resources for August on our Talking Ministry page.