A former university lecturer will be ordained tomorrow (Friday) as the first of the Church of Scotland’s new pioneering type of ministers.
Dr Fiona Tweedie, who has taught statistics at both Edinburgh and Glasgow universities, will become the Kirk’s first Ordained Local Minister at the service in Barclay Viewforth Church.
She has been appointed as Edinburgh Presbytery’s mission facilitator and researcher – an unpaid post in which she will contribute to the Church’s strategy to engage with communities across the city.
The Ordained Local Ministry (OLM) was approved by May’s General Assembly, the Church’s decision-making body. Unlike parish ministry, OLMs will be deployed by their Presbytery rather than being called to a specific congregation and participate in around 10-hours of work a week.
With a flexible approach to training and serving, the new scheme is expected to be popular amongst congregational members feeling a call to ministry but unable to work full-time as a minister due to other work and family commitments.
Dr Tweedie said: “Being a mother-of-two, if there wasn’t a part-time training option then there’s no way I could have ever done this.
“Five of us trained together and we will all be ordained over the next month. We’re quite a varied group, one’s a nurse, another’s a teacher, one works in a bank and another has their own business.
“It’s healthy and encouraging that such a wide variety of people are being able to fulfil their call to the ministry in the Church.”
During her training Dr Tweedie worked with five congregations in Cumbernauld and helping them to identify common issues and a positive way forward: “There were churches facing the same issues, like new housing developments or deprived areas, but they weren’t sharing ideas or initiatives because they weren’t neighbours.
“I’m sure this is true for many parts of Edinburgh, and I’m hoping as a Presbytery we will be able to work more collaboratively across the city.”
The capital is somewhere the 38-year-old knows well having been brought up in Fairmilehead. She now stays in Colinton with husband Stephen and daughters Heather, 10, and Susanna, 7.