Board of Ministry chairman Rev Angus MacRae today urged the General Assembly to pray for the future leaders of the Church.
The Dingwall and Strathpeffer minister shared that there were 19 recognised candidates for the Free Church ministry, and he personally believed God was preparing the denomination for future growth through church revitalisation and planting.
Mr MacRae (pictured above) said: “We strive for training for gospel ministry that is Biblical, confessional, missional and practical.
“A love for the gospel will inevitably lead to a proper concern for evangelism and church planting.
“At this time the Free Church has 19 recognised candidates for the ministry at or about to study at ETS with approximately five other applications at various stages before our Presbyteries.
“That figure compares very well to number of Church of Scotland Candidates studying for the ministry at various Scottish Universities.
“Eight at Glasgow Uni, 11 at Edinburgh New College, five at Aberdeen Uni, three at Saint Andrews, and 13 at HTC Dingwall, a national total of 40 candidates in training for the much larger Church of Scotland who are carrying over 120 vacancies.
“It really is remarkable that God is providing so many excellent future leaders to the Free Church.”
The Board of Ministry chairman spoke of his delight that those who were recently admitted from other denominations were participating at this year’s Assembly – such as Rev Andrew Coghill, Rev David Court, Rev Ivor MacDonald (above), Rev Athole Rennie and Rev Benjamin van Rensburg.
Looking to the future, the Dingwall minister continued: “The number of ministers, probationers, and candidates for the ministry entering the Free Church ministry is roughly in balance with the number of existing and projected vacancies for the next two to three years.
“However the Church faces a very wonderful challenge as we look to the medium and longer term.
“This church has to grow. The number of congregations has to grow. The number of workers employed in existing congregations has to grow. The number of church plants has to grow. The number supported in cross-cultural and international mission has to grow.
“God is supplying workers for the harvest. Our challenge as a church is to ensure that they are sent into the harvest field: as well-prepared, well-resourced, and well-supported as is possible.
“This is a challenge to our vision, our attitude to funding, and our willingness to try new things and new models of service and funding.
“It is a challenge to our commitment to be on a Gospel-centred missionary footing at every level of our church life.”
Mr MacRae concluded: I call on the Church and on the members of the Assembly to constantly pray for our candidates, and for an ongoing supply of candidates, that they may be steadfast heralds of the gospel.
“Pray that our candidates will be gospel-shaped men, who plant and lead gospel-shaped churches.”
With Broughty Ferry Presbyterian Church being officially welcomed into the Free Church yesterday afternoon, today commissioners formally admitted their minister Rev Alberto de Paula (above) into the denomination.
The 47-year-old is originally from Brazil, and has 25 years’ experience in ministry serving both in his homeland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Having been born in a Roman Catholic home, Mr de Paula’s mother began attending a nearby Presbyterian church and he started learning the stories of the Bible and the message that Jesus is the Saviour.
In his teenage years he attended church every Sunday and came under deep conviction about his sinfulness and the need for forgiveness – professing faith in Christ as a member of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil in 1982.
He went to study for the ministry at their seminary in 1987, and was licensed in 1991 – preaching in four congregations until he left for the UK at the end of 2003.
Mr de Paula was a locum minister at Enniskillen Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland for part of 2004, before undertaking his probationary term for the Church of Scotland in Arbroath and then being inducted to St James’ in Broughty Ferry.
After a decade at St James, he left the Church of Scotland to become the minister of Broughty Ferry Presbyterian Church, where he has served for the past year.
Married to Luciane, they have two children.
After commissioners unanimously approved his application to become a Free Church minister, Moderator Rev Dr John Nicholls prayed for Mr de Paula, his family and his congregation.
The final session of the 2016 General Assembly will include an address from the Lord High Commissioner, Baron Hope of Craighead, at 12 noon.