There aren’t many inductions that take place a week before Christmas, with freezing temperature outside and snow on the ground. But that’s how it was for the induction of Jerry Taylor to Thurso and North Coast Free Church, last December. As a consequence of these factors, some friends weren’t able to attend, but that didn’t lessen the joy of the congregation as they welcomed their new minister, his wife June, and their family, to the far north.
The congregation had become vacant at the end of 2020 when their former minister, John Marker, left to become an army chaplain. At that time, Jerry was a Church of England minister near Leicester, but in June 2022, he applied to transfer to the Free Church. Following interviews with the Board of Ministry, his application through the Edinburgh and Perth Presbytery was approved by the Commission of Assembly in October. During that time, Jerry had preached in the Thurso and North Coast congregation in person and on Zoom and the call had been signed in November. Jerry, June and the family had some prior knowledge of Thurso and the area because June is from Shetland, with some family in Orkney. Trips across the Pentland Firth always meant getting a ferry from Scrabster, just outside the town.
The induction service was led by Ben Fiddian (minister of Lairg and Bonar Bridge, and moderator of Northern Presbytery) who preached from 2 Timothy 1:6-7, where Paul encouraged his young friend Timothy to be courageous in his gospel work, assured of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. Jerry then answered the questions that are addressed to new ministers and signed the Formula. He was then addressed by Howard Stone (Castletown & Community), who had been interim moderator. He welcomed Jerry, encouraging him to take to heart the apostles’ commitment to prayer and the Word, as recorded in Acts 6. Then Roddy Macrae (Helmsdale) spoke to the congregation with words from Romans 15. He likened the relationship between a minister and a congregation to that of a conductor and an orchestra. The conductor’s job is to lead the orchestra in making beautiful music to please the audience. In the Church, that audience is God himself.
Finally, gifts from the congregation were presented to Jerry and June – including vouchers for local shops to help them become familiar with the town’s businesses – and vouchers for the cinema to their three teenage sons, Magnus, Erland and Olaf.
Because of the wintry weather, some folk then had to dash off home, but the rest of the gathering moved to the church hall to enjoy the rich selection of goodies provided by the congregation.
“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).
By Howard Stone