Ministry Candidates

about our candidates

Candidates are being trained at Edinburgh Theological Seminary (ETS) to go into ministry in the Free Church of Scotland. 

Find out more about the candidates here, including their intended date of completion of studies at ETS. 

We hope this page is helpful for churches looking to call a minister.

If you have any questions, please do get in touch with Donald Macleod, Clerk to the Board of Ministry.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

Serving as Ministers-In-Training: Completed ETS Studies (May 2022)

donald smith

I am currently a Minister-in-Training at Cornerstone Free Church in Edinburgh. My wife (Mairi) and I both had the privilege of growing up in Christian homes and it’s a blessing we want many more to experience. We have a heart for spreading the gospel in Scotland, making Jesus known and helping people grow in their knowledge and love of God through His Word. I’ve had the opportunity to train in a variety of contexts including some time in west London and 3 years in Niddrie, a scheme in Edinburgh, before beginning at Cornerstone last summer. We are excited (and hopefully equipped) for wherever the Lord leads us next.

Mairi and I got married a couple of years ago and we are expecting our first child in June. We are mostly excited but also slightly terrified. We love exploring the outdoors (albeit slightly less since one of us started growing a human) and spending time with family and friends.


At 58 I may be at the senior end of those training for ministry, but it does not dampen my zeal to preach God’s word or to see people coming to proclaim Jesus Christ as their saviour.

I am married to Arlene, and was brought up in Lanarkshire before moving to our first smallholding some 25 years ago in Ayrshire. I completed my B.Th. At Edinburgh Theological Seminary, graduating in May 2022. I am nearing the end of a year’s placement at Back Free Church on Lewis and also had the opportunity to complete a secondary placement for 8 weeks at Duirinish on Skye.

Prior to training for ministry, I worked in residential childcare also for a time with a homeless charity, and in establishing a voluntary group to minister to and feed homeless people on the streets of Glasgow. Alongside this my wife and I also developed our smallholding over the last 25 years.

While at E.T.S. I had the opportunity over the three years to preach in both rural and urban parishes, as my work experience and home life suggest I am equally at home in both.

To relax or unwind my interests are my dogs, fitness, and sport, particularly rugby.

Intended Date of Completion: May 2023


Angus Macleod, who is in his final year of the Ministers-in-Training programme, has been training at Haddington Community Church for the past couple of years. This is alongside studying at ETS.

Angus, who is from Lewis, worked as an electrician before becoming a Christian. He first attended the Church of Scotland before joining High Free Church in Stornoway. He has since completed training at Cornhill in Glasgow, Stirling Free Church and Chalmers Church in Edinburgh. 

He says the Ministers-in-Training programme has been an opportunity for him to grow in his ministry, to learn from others and to be part of a close-knit church family.  


Over the last 10 years through involvement with churches in Newcastle and around Scotland, as well as my experiences working for UCCF: The Christian Unions, the Lord has grown my conviction that the gospel alone saves people and sustains them in the Christian life, and that there is a great need for many in Scotland to hear it both outside and inside the church. 

Training within the Free Church is a really exciting opportunity to be involved in a wide family of believers who share this heart to see the gospel bear fruit all over Scotland. Outside of ministry life I enjoy spending time with my wife, Jody, and our wee boy, as well as good coffee, a good film and a good football match. Happily Newcastle United have been providing me with more of the latter recently!


I grew up in rural N. Ireland in a farming background, where I first professed faith at 4/5 years old. I grew up in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland until I entered Stirling university in 2008.

I have worked in many different contexts including secular employment in the army and others. I have worked in both rural and urban, established and revitalised, plants and traditional congregations over the last 10 years. My wife of 10 years Bethany (a Pastor’s daughter), is my greatest support and she shares my same vision for ministry. With us we have 3 boys Isaac (5), Noah (4), Asher (1) and Guinness our dog.

I’m passionate about preaching that brings clarity and moves our hearts, so that our daily life and worldview is conformed to God’s word. About discipleship so people grow in confidence and assurance through handling his Word. I love weightlifting and use this to reach out to young men who would never engage with church. Our goal is to share the beauty of the Gospel, to see lives changed, hope restored to communities and the King of kings given the glory He deserves.

Intended Date of Completion: May 2024


Phil was born in Nepal where his parents were missionaries. While studying Chemistry at St. Andrews University he grew in his love of God’s word and sharing the gospel. Phil began training for ministry in St. Andrews Free Church while studying first at Cornhill and then ETS. Here he developed a passion for discipleship and teaching others. He is completing his training in Carloway Free Church and will graduate in 2024. Phil is married to Helen, and they have one son, Lachlan. In his free time Phil enjoys running, climbing, singing, board games, and time with family and friends.


Davi de Paula, Minister-in-Training at Burghead Free Church, has shared his story. He said: ‘I grew up in a Christian home. Whilst at university I was quite involved in the CU, so I went on to work as a relay worker with UCCF. I enjoyed my time in this ministry and, through conversation with others, discovered that long-term ministry was on the cards. As a result, I spent the next 5 years at Chalmers Church Edinburgh. During the first two years I worked as a ministry apprentice whilst completing training with Cornhill. In the three years following I was the student worker whilst studying part time at ETS. An opportunity for further ministry experience Free Church opened up in Burghead so we moved there. Since we have had a wee baby (Benjamin). Studies and training continue there currently.”


My name is David Ferguson. I’m married to Catherine and we have a son, Duncan.  I grew up in Invergordon in the Highlands and started attending the Free Church in Rosskeen about 30 years ago.  After many years as an elder there and some time working as the church administrator, both Catherine and I became convinced that God was calling us as a family to go into full time pastoral ministry.  

As part of my training I spent two years attached to Tain and Fearn congregation, where I learned a lot from Alasdair MacAulay as my preaching mentor. In summer 2022 we moved as a family to Dunfermline to work alongside Jeremy Ross as a minister in training. We don’t know what God has planned for us in terms of ministry, but we are excited to find out.  We are keeping an open mind with regard to the type of congregation or the area we might end up in and looking forward to putting what we are learning to use in God’s service as we share the good news of Jesus Christ wherever he sends us.


I was born in Belfast and moved to Scotland to study English Literature at the University of St Andrews. It was here that I met my wife, Ashton, and it was the place where I first felt a desire and call to serve God as a minister. I have since moved away from the east coast to Glasgow and am currently training at Christ Church Glasgow. Being in Glasgow has given me a heart for this city and the people in it; for, whilst it is a vibrant and wonderful place to be, it is also a city full of lost people in need of Jesus. When I’m not studying you’re likely to find me lost in a good book, watching old movies, or, when the weather is nice, swimming in our nearby loch. 


My name is Neil Longwe, I am married to Jillian, and we are blessed with two wonderful children Naomi (3 years old) and Israel (2 years old). I am of dual heritage born to a Scottish mother and a Malawian father. I am thankful to God to be training for ministry with the Free Church of Scotland. It is a real privilege to be able to study God’s word, in deepening my knowledge of God, and learning how to correctly handle the word.  My heart’s desire is to be involved in urban ministry; I am hoping to be involved in church planting in the city of Glasgow. 

I studied and worked in Glasgow as a Building Surveyor before training for ministry, and I have always been struck at how many old church buildings have closed and turned into pubs, theatres, or homes, which is indicative of the spiritual temperature of Glasgow. My heart’s prayer is to see the people of our great city being reached with the good news of Jesus Christ. That the historic motto of our great city would come to fruition, “Lord let Glasgow Flourish by the preaching of Thy word and the praising of Thy name.”

Please send any emails to Donald Macleod which will be passed on.

Intended Date of Completion: May 2025


I was born in Peru but I’m also a proud Scot who spent 12 years living in Aberdeen before marrying Hilary and moving to St Andrews. We’re both big sports fans who love Peruvian coffee, organising holidays around food, and dog-sitting for friends. 

After studying law at university, I managed a mentoring programme for young offenders and vulnerable young people. Shortly after, I worked as a youth and student worker at Bon Accord Free Church where I was given my first opportunities to teach from God’s word. 

Since beginning my ministry training in St Andrews Free Church and ETS, my conviction that the Bible is the only thing I have to offer anyone has grown. Consequently, I have a passion for God’s word as the means God uses to grow his church and save people. Moreover, Hilary and I have a passion for young people being discipled and taught well to prepare them for a lifetime of love and faithfulness to Jesus. 


I became a Christian in my early 20s and my life has been completely transformed through coming to know the Lord Jesus as my personal saviour. Having experienced the transforming power of the gospel, God has now given me a passion and a desire to make Jesus known to others and to proclaim the hope he offers in order that many might be presented mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28). 

I’m married to Katherine and we live in Prestonpans, where I grew up. I enjoy spending time with people, whether that is going for coffee, out for dinner or for a pint to watch sport. As well as watching sport I also try to play some sports including rugby, lawn bowls and badminton. 


I’m Alex and I’ve been married to Stefanie for 6 years. We have three children together; Samuel (4), Caleb (2), and Leah (8 months). Looking back, I felt the call to ministry many years ago. I grew increasingly unsettled in my previous job, and I had a growing, burdensome desire to share the good news message of Jesus to all, especially those who live without hope. This culminated in me applying to be a candidate for ministry within the Free Church. 

I am currently in my second year at ETS, and I am serving as a Minister-in-Training at Smithton Church, Inverness, which my family and I have been part of for almost 5 years. My heart is to know more of our King Jesus, to share my passion for the bible, and ultimately to make Jesus known wherever God calls us as family. The passion and heart of John Knox for Scotland is something that inspires me greatly. 

Outside of work and study, my main joy is spending time with my family. I also enjoy walking, reading, and watching/playing football when I can. 

Intended Date of Completion: May 2026


I was brought up in Bishopbriggs and moved to the Free Church from the Church of Scotland in 2011. I am married to Hannah, who is a Secondary School Music Teacher and father to Noah. We currently live in the South side of Glasgow. I am a big football fan (but a very average player) and a running enthusiast. 

After working in social care, the prison service and foster care, a common theme developed of a longing to serve people whilst being frustrated at being restricted in sharing the only thing that all people truly need – the gospel of Jesus Christ. I started investigating a call to ministry, and at every stage, doors opened and did not close. 

My own gratitude to my Saviour spurs me on in my desire to spend the rest of my days proclaiming the truths of the gospel to the people of Scotland, bringing hope from a loving Father to a lost world. I am excited to share in the mission for a healthy gospel church for every community in Scotland and trust God with the future.


My name is Scott Macleod and I am currently a minister in training with Stornoway Free Church. I live in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis with my wife Fiona and our two daughters. Since leaving school I have worked as an electrician and in car body repair, so it’s safe to say I have an interest in fixing anything that’s broken! After becoming a Christian in 2009 I had growing convictions and assurances directing me toward full time ministry. 

Over time this led to an application to the Free Church and the commencement of my studies at ETS in September 2022. It is a daunting prospect preparing to become a minister of God’s Word and a servant to His people, nevertheless, we are prepared and strengthened by His grace to undertake this weighty responsibility. 

There is a need for our nation to hear the hope of the Gospel because sin has left us broken, in need of repair and restoration. I pray that I will learn to transfer my desire to ‘fix’ into ministry, by commending and directing people to the person of Christ as the only one who is able to fix, repair and restore us.