Last year she was moderator of the national youth assembly: now she is an elder at her home kirk

Since Rachel Hutcheson's term as National Youth Assembly Moderator ended last August, she hasn't been eating chocolates with her feet up. Quite the opposite. Rachel has been clocking up volunteer hours working to support her own church— Old High St Stephens in Inverness.

That's at the same time as launching her new career as a primary school teacher – which she says she loves.

Rachel Hutcheson at her ordination as elder Rev Peter Nimmo ordained Rachel Hutcheson as an elder at Old High St Stephen's in Inverness along with Roberta Mackintosh and Margaret McAleer.

This week her efforts for her local church were recognised as she was ordained as a church elder along with Roberta Mackintosh and Margaret McAleer. At 26, Rachel is not the youngest elder in the country, but she's definitely among the youngest.

"My parents are both elders so now the whole family are elders," she said. "I'm really blessed and very happy."

Rachel said she read the Learn Eldership booklet and found it helped her as she thought deeply about the role before agreeing to serve.

"It's a new role and it's an opportunity to serve and my chance to make a difference," she said. "I am happy to put my skills and talents to work for the Church and I hope to bring more people to Know God. I'm going to be a pastoral elder and take some responsibility in the Kirk session toward worship."

Rev Peter Nimmo, Rachel's minister welcomed her to her new role, saying:

"I've known Rachel since I arrived at Old High St Stephen's some 12 years ago, when Rachel was in our Youth Group. I've watched as she became involved in the National Youth Assembly, and the congregation were very proud, not just that she was elected Moderator by her peers, but that she was able to do so much during her year.

"I was ordained an elder in my early twenties, so I can understand something of Rachel's feelings as she steps up to this new role. However, I am confident that Rachel and all three of our new elders will be a blessing to our congregation."

Rachel is a member of the Church leadership team and co-chair of the Worship and Education Action Team, which has created a quiet prayer space in the church and encouraged the formation of a praise band that includes fiddles and brass.

The team is also looking into adding screens to the Church so people can read the words of hymns and show videos, such as animations that would appeal to children

Very Rev John Chalmers climbed Ben Lomond with Rachel last May as part of the Moderators' Munro challenge that raised more than £18,000 for Nepal earthquake relief. Mr Chalmers said:

"I am really delighted to hear that Rachel has been ordained as an elder and now able to take her due place in the leadership of the local church. For me, while it is wonderful to see our young people flourish on the national stage, it is more important that they are given the opportunity to shape the local church. The real frontline of the Church of Scotland is in the parish rather than the General Assembly and I have every confidence that Rachel will make her mark as a local church leader."