Stirling Free Church are set to welcome their first minister since 1933 after Rev Iain MacAskill accepted an appointment to lead the fledgling church plant.
Two years ago the Free Church returned to Stirling after an absence of well over half-a-century from the city, and a core group have been holding regular services there.
Mr MacAskill, who currently pastors the Rosskeen congregation in Easter Ross, accepted the church planting appointment at a meeting of the Free Church Mission Board in Edinburgh last week.
He will be released from his present congregation, subject to the approval of Northern Presbytery at their January meeting.
Rev Iain MacAskill said: “My prayer all along this process has been ‘Not my will, but your will be done’.
“My will would be to finish what we started here over six years ago and to stay in a congregation and a community we love deeply.
“We have seen a growth in membership and the establishing of a vibrant Christian centre at the Capstone and the school and sports chaplaincies have developed and been blessed mightily by The Lord.
“But The Lord has made it very clear that he is calling me to Stirling. And it is for that reason, and that alone, that I was compelled to accept the invitation from the Mission Board.
“We look forward with a great sense of expectancy, believing that The Lord is going to do great things in this strategic city of Stirling.
“The mission is massive - but so is the vision! We would appreciate the prayers of the church community as we prepare to respond to God's call on our lives.”
Stirling founding elder Murdo Murchison said: "We were totally united as a congregation in calling Iain MacAskill, as a group we have prayed earnestly for guidance and our prayers have been answered.
"Iain MacAskill when he joins us will be an adopted ‘Son of the Rock’ as native Stirling men are called.
“Throughout history many sons of the rock have been used in a great way by God in spreading the Gospel in Scotland and beyond.
"Despite a great Free Church heritage in Stirling there has been no Free church since 1948, how encouraging that we are back in Stirling with a strong strategy to spread the glorious gospel.”
Session Clerk Clive Bailey added: “It is a wonderful privilege to be involved in what God is doing and will do here in Stirling and beyond.
“We are convinced that God has many people in this university city, and that Iain is God's man in God's perfect timing to lead the congregation that has formed over the last couple of years to take the gospel to more and more people who have never heard it.
“God has blessed Iain's ministry in South Uist and in Rosskeen, and as he now prepares to make the move south to the very different setting to which the Lord has called him, we would ask folks throughout the church to uphold him, his wife Ann and daughter Kathryn in prayer that they would know the Lord's presence and strength as they begin this new chapter with us.”
Rev Alasdair Macleod, chairman of the Free Church's Mission Board, said: "Iain brings many qualities to this new role, not least his experience in seeing new works in South Uist and Alness (The Capstone Centre) begin under his ministry.
"We look forward to hearing of many souls in Stirling come to know, love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
"We are also mindful of the impending vacancy in Rosskeen. We are confident that the Lord Jesus who directed Iain from Rosskeen to Stirling will provide a pastor to replace Iain."
Born and brought up on North Uist, Iain worked for British Airways at Benbecula Airport before being converted and entering the ministry.
His first congregation was South Uist and Benbecula where he pioneered the first ‘Road to Recovery’ programme in the Western Isles, dealing with addictions issues.
Iain’s missionary relief work in Eastern Europe was showcased in a BBC documentary, and he also led efforts to turn a Hotel into a church on North Uist, which is now the home of the Free Church congregation there.
In 2009 he accepted a call to Rosskeen Free Church, and over the past six years has overseen different outreach initiatives in the Alness and Invergordon areas.
As well as the conversion of a supermarket into a multi-purpose church centre for the community on Alness High Street, Iain has also helped to oversee the establishment of a church plant there.
Iain also serves as chaplain to Ross County FC, and was instrumental in organising the first-ever carol service in the Highlands at a football stadium.
Subject to approval from the Northern Presbytery to release Iain from Rosskeen, the Presbytery of Glasgow and Argyll will then set a date for the Stirling induction service. A further announcement will be made in due course.
The last minister of Stirling Free Church was Rev Donald Fraser, who moved onto Aberfeldy in 1933.
Services in Stirling Free Church ceased in 1948, until the core group restarted meetings in 2013.