More than 50 leaders have been trained for ministry thanks to a long-standing partnership between the Free Church of Scotland and the Bonar Trust.
The Bonar Trust exists to develop a culture of training in the Church in Scotland by supporting people in their training and partnering with training churches, training providers and other organisations. It has been working in partnership with the Free Church of Scotland in several ways, including providing financial support for those in the Ministers-in-Training programme and other leadership roles.
Grants awarded by the Bonar Trust to people training or having trained for ministry in the Free Church since 2009 total £638,000. This is approximately one third of the Trust’s total grants to date. Matched funding from the training church means at least £1,276,000 has invested in people training over that period in association with the Bonar Trust.
Rev Paul Clarke is the Chair of the Board of Ministry for the Free Church of Scotland and a Trustee of the Bonar Trust. He says: “A Healthy Gospel Church for Every Community in Scotland is dependent fundamentally on the power of God. Such a vision is beyond any one denomination or grouping to deliver. It can only be achieved through generous Gospel partnership.”
The Bonar Trust has partnered with 24 Free Church congregations training people including Bishopbriggs Free Church, Haddington Community Church, Kiltarlity Free Church and Stornoway Free Church. In addition, Chalmers Church in Edinburgh and Redeemer (a church plant from Chalmers) have so far trained eight people for ministry in the Free Church.
TheTrust has worked closely with the Free Church to develop Foundation (Apprenticeship) and Core Training (Minister in Training) as the recognised pathway to ministry. The Trust has a long-established partnership with Edinburgh Theological Seminary as one of the core external training providers for people undertaking Core Training (Minister in Training).
Free Church ministers supported by the Bonar Trust through their training include Generation church planters Rev Andy Robertson (Charleston Community Church), Rev Ali Sewell (Haddington Community Church) and Rev Craig Anderson (Galashiels Free Church).
Craig said: “The Bonar Trust was invaluable towards my training. If it was not for the funding that they provided, I don’t think I could have trained for the ministry. However, the input from the Bonar Trust has gone far beyond financial support. Knowing that to be granted funding they need to see a training programme, that meant that my training was specific towards me individually and for each stage (Ministry apprentice, Minister in training, Church planter in training).
“Furthermore, the Bonar Trust helped me to grasp the state of the church in the Scotland and the great need for more churches across our nation which keep word ministry at its centre. This also helped me to meet other like-minded men and women throughout my training. From this a number of deep friendships have grown which have helped sustain me in ministry and I’m sure will continue to do so.”
He added: “The preaching residentials are a great time to spend time with these friends and also to continue to work on becoming a better preacher and understanding a book of the Bible better. I simply cannot speak highly enough of The Bonar Trust and its impact it has had and continues to have on me. I hope, therefore, that the gospel ministry in Galashiels instead displays their input.”
Ali said: “The Bonar Trust enabled me to train thoroughly in both practical and academic aspects of ministry. Its financial support meant training wasn’t simply something to be completed as quickly as possible, but that time could be spent in order to be better equipped for a lifetime of ministry.
“The practical input of the Trust in facilitating ongoing preaching development and mutual encouragement has also continued to be a great support after the completion of training and financial grants. The work of the Bonar Trust has meant embarking on training for gospel work in Scotland is a viable option for more people, which will in turn greatly strengthen the church across the nation.”
A number supported by The Bonar Trust through their training are now in leadership roles training others. In total, 54 people training for ministry in the Free Church have been funded by The Bonar Trust.
Rev Thomas Davis, who oversees the Student Team on the Board of Ministry, said:
“There is such an urgent need for the communities in our nation to be reached with the gospel. For that to happen, we need to train ministers and church workers. And for that happen, we need the financial resource to make that training possible. That is why we are so thankful to God for our partnership with the Bonar Trust. The generosity shown by the Trust and its supporters has been an enormous blessing to the Free Church and it has had a direct impact in terms of training pastors and sending them to serve across our nation.”
Residential preaching conferences are held by the Trust. Free Church ministers including Rev Paul Clarke and Rev Pete Turnbull, Rev Ali Sewell and Rev Andy Robertson help to lead them.
If you want to find out more about the links between the Free Church of Scotland and the Bonar Trust, do check out the latest film by the Trust, Gospel Workers for the Church in Scotland below.