An unusually long vacancy of five and a half years came to a happy end on Saturday 12th March when Nigel Anderson was inducted to the congregation of Trotternish in the north of Skye. Trotternish is a picturesque parish forming the east wing of the Misty Isle. It is home to the famous Quiraing, an iconic rock formation which forms part of the Trotternish ridge. There are churches in Uig, Kilmuir and Staffin.
The service was conducted by Rev David Meredith, Mission Director, who has been seconded to the presbytery of Skye and Wester Ross. David preached from Acts 8, specifically the passage of Philip’s call to minister to the Ethiopian eunuch. The point was made that this encounter led to the spread of the gospel in the continent of Africa. The congregation was reminded that from this small act we now have the home of one of the largest groupings of Christians in the whole world. He alluded to those who brought the gospel to Skye through the early Celtic Church and the later evangelical movement. In the rural setting of north Skye it was noted that there were ‘no little places and no little people.’
Gordon Matheson, minister at Strath and Sleat and also interim moderator, then spoke to the new minister and congregation reminding them of their duty to pray and support the new ministry. A theme which was maintained throughout the service was that Trotternish was a very different place compared to 30 years ago. It is a parish marked by diversity. Nostalgic caricatures created by authors like Lillian Beckwith have disappeared. These days it’s more like Katie Morag and the big boy cousins where the cultural difference between ‘granny island’ and ‘granny mainland’ has all but disappeared.
It was appropriate that the service ended with a Gaelic psalm and prayer as the Trotternish area is still significantly Gaelic speaking.
Nigel and his wife Janice are no strangers to the Isle of Skye as Nigel was head of history at Portree High School prior to entering the ministry. This is his third congregation as he has previously served at Ayr and Livingston. Two of the speakers at the induction were Rev Principal Iver Martin and Mr Ian MacDonald, the session clerk. Iver spoke of Nigel’s contribution to Edinburgh Theological Seminary where he served as a part time lecturer. Ian gave thanks to God for the way in which the congregation had held together during a long vacancy and the Covid epidemic. He also thanked the many preachers who had ministered to the congregation over the period. Special mention was made of Rev John MacLean, the last minister who has now sadly gone to his rest. Also mentioned were Rev David Miller who had served as interim moderator and Rev Joel Dykstra (Wellandport, Ontario) who had served for 6 months as interim minister.
Inductions remind us that although the singers change, the song remains the same. As Nigel and Janice settle into their new situation please pray that they will be able to sing that song with grace and wisdom.