One of the most experienced ministers in the Free Church of Scotland has become the next minister of Stornoway Free Church. Earlier this year, Rev. James Maciver accepted a unanimous call from the Kenneth Street congregation, at a meeting of the Western Isles Presbytery in Stornoway.
Mr Maciver, who served as Moderator of the General Assembly in 2011, has been minister of Knock Free Church on the Isle of Lewis since 1997. He said, ‘This has been a hard decision for me to arrive at, simply because of the sheer quality of people in Knock Free Church, with whom I have had such a close bond for the past 19 years.
‘I want to pay tribute to them for all the support they have given my wife Donna and myself over these years. Serving them has been a privilege and pleasure, and it is no small consolation that we carry with us so many precious memories as we begin a new chapter of service to the Lord’.
The former Free Church Moderator said the town of Stornoway presented many challenges and opportunities for the gospel and, ‘by God’s grace’, his aim will be to unite the preaching of the gospel with all the gifts already evident in the congregation, so as to meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities.
Point minister Rev. Dr Iain D Campbell is to become interim moderator of Knock Free Church.
In February, Rev. Iain MacAskill was officially welcomed as the first Free Church of Scotland minister in Stirling for almost a century. A special induction service was held on Saturday 27 February at 2.30pm, in the Albert Halls, on Dumbarton Road.
Rev. Dr David Ford, Moderator of the Glasgow and Argyll Presbytery, led the service, Dowanvale’s Rev. Kenny Macleod addressed Rev. Iain MacAskill, and Glasgow City minister Rev. Dr Colin Dow, who had been Stirling’s interim moderator, gave a word of encouragement to the congregation.
The last minister of Stirling Free Church was Rev. Donald Fraser, who moved to Aberfeldy in 1933. Stirling services ceased in 1948, before a church plant was established in summer 2013, and the group has gone from strength to strength since. Services are 11.00am and 6.00pm, with a prayer meeting on Tuesdays.
In 2009 Mr MacAskill accepted a call to Rosskeen Free Church and, over the past seven years, has overseen outreach initiatives in the Alness and Invergordon areas, as the congregation has been blessed with 65 new professions of faith in Christ. He was also instrumental in organising the first-ever carol service in the Highlands at a football stadium.
In his diary, in 1922, Free Church minister Rev. Kenneth MacRae observed, after a service with 37 people, ‘Small though the number was, there were some outsiders among them: Brethren, Salvationists, [United Frees] and Parish kirkers.
‘I spoke from Acts 14:22 on there being no easy way to heaven, choosing that subject as being an apt one in a town almost wholly given over to religious formalism … I believe that, had we the man, Stirling is ripe for a Free Church evangelical movement’.
It may be almost a century late for the late Rev. Kenneth MacRae, but everyone was most welcome at the service, which marked this joyful event in the life of Stirling Free Church.