Rev Mandy Ralph
The Church of Scotland's ‘Talking Ministry' series shares personal stories from those serving in Christian ministry, along with resources filled with questions, prayers and reflections to help encourage reflection on how God might be calling you at this time.
For October, Rev Mandy Ralph speaks about her journey to become a full-time minister of word and sacrament and we explore the theme: Taking the risk.
My ministry: Rev Mandy Ralph, Minister of Word and Sacrament at the linked charges of Annbank and Tarbolton
Former nurse Rev Mandy Ralph spent five years as an Ordained Local Minister before becoming a full-time Minister of Word and Sacrament when she was inducted to the linked charges of Annbank and Tarbolton in South Ayrshire in 2019. She sits on the Church of Scotland's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group.
When did you become a Christian?
I joined the church St Johns in Largs when I was almost 18 years of age, just before I started my training as a nurse. I had been involved in church activities for a few years and had attended Sunday School, Juco's [Sunday school for teens in the 70s], and Scripture Union and felt a strong pull to acknowledge my faith and make a commitment to follow in faith.
How would you describe your journey into ministry?
Unintentional and a bit of a surprise. It was my own minister who suggested it might be something I consider. I had volunteered as a Sunday School leader and served for over ten years. Then became an Elder and more involved in the life of the church whilst exploring my own spirituality. I think my minister saw something in me that I didn't (I wasn't really sure I was minister material to be honest, far too outspoken!). But I was invited to wander down the discernment path.
Why did you want to be a minister of Word and Sacrament?
At first, I applied and was accepted for what was Auxiliary Ministry, which then became Ordained Local Ministry (OLM), as I felt I wanted to incorporate my work as a district nurse and my faith together. I felt there was something to be explored in doing so and working to serve in this way. Only as time went on did I feel the call to full-time ministry. I served as an OLM first for five years and then transferred and was inducted into the linked charges of Annbank and Tarbolton in October 2019.
Have you had many surprises and disappointments?
There have been lots of challenges along the way. Having to come to terms with several life-changing bereavements during my training. Encountering racism from people in the pew, in some parishes and from fellow ministers. But equally I have been blessed with great support and, from the situations encountered have sprung, with God's guidance, ways of supporting others experiencing grief and racial injustice. One of the things to come from this was being involved in the setting up of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group and from that the sub-group who are undertaking Research on Ethnic Minorities within the Church of Scotland, looking at inequalities and injustice and how as a church we can address these issues and be fully inclusive.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Don't try and be like anyone else, just be yourself because that's who God called.
Who has helped to inspire you on your journey?
Friends and prayer pals within my home congregation in Largs where I grew up.
Rev Andrew McGurk and Rev James McNay. Colleagues I have worked with who are passionate about the church flourishing, especially in rural communities and, importantly for me - Nelson Mandela.
If you would like to consider how God might be calling you to serve at this time, you may want to discuss further with your minister or be in touch with your Presbytery to explore local opportunities.
If you are interested in exploring a call to the recognised ministries of the Church, you can find more information on our vocations page and can contact email@example.com for a Discernment Conversation with one of the Recruitment Team.