One of the Church of Scotland’s best-known preachers in the Highlands is among three new ministers and three new congregations formally joining the Free Church at last night's (Wednesday 4 March) Commission of Assembly.
Rev Aonghas Ian MacDonald ministered for 40 years across the Highlands and Islands, including parishes in Wester Ross, the Isle of Lewis and one of the biggest evangelical congregations in Inverness, where he was succeeded by Rev Professor Andrew McGowan.
Joining Mr MacDonald is former Kirk colleague Rev Andrew McMillan, who is leading a new Free Church congregation in the west of Inverness.
The trio is completed by Rev Athole Rennie, who is joining with Grace Church Leith. Mr Rennie’s Edinburgh congregation, which began as a church plant by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, decided they wished to join a Scottish-based denomination for support.
The two other congregations are Hope Church Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill and Christ Church Edinburgh – both of whom had been associating with the Free Church and now wish to make it their permanent home.
Free Church of Scotland Moderator Rev David Miller said: “We are delighted to welcome these new ministers and congregations to the Free Church.
“Rev Aonghas Ian MacDonald is greatly respected amongst evangelicals of all stripes across the Highlands and Islands, and he was very much the elder statesman of the Church of Scotland.
“To have someone with 40 years of parish ministry behind him feeling convicted to join us is greatly encouraging.”
He continued: “The Free Church has been looking for a long time to plant another church in the west of Inverness, and we are delighted that Rev Andrew McMillan will lead this work.
“Grace Church Leith’s own testimony is extraordinary, and shows how richly blessed they have been under the able leadership of Rev Athole Rennie.
“We warmly welcome them to the Free Church.
“The whole evening provided real encouragement, and it is our prayer that all of these ministries will be used to further the Gospel in Scotland.”
The only other business at the Commission of Assembly was from Kinloch Free Church to sell their manse, which was approved. Because they are currently without a minister, they hope to build a new fit-for-purpose home with the proceeds of the sale.
More details about some of the new ministers and congregations will appear over the coming days.
Pictured above (L-R) Rev Andrew McMillan, Rev Athole Rennie and Rev Aonghas Ian MacDonald