A new minister for the North Coast Parish

An ultimate frisbee enthusiast who earned his theology degree in between taking emergency calls for the Fire Service has become the Church of Scotland's newest minister.

Rev David Macartney, 38, was ordained and inducted into the North Coast Parish on Friday, which is part of the Presbytery of Caithness.

The minister and his family
Rev Dave Macartney at his ordination with his family. L-r Billy, 10, Kerrie, Evie, 9, Rev Dave Macartney

The parish covers a large area, including the villages of Reay, Strathy and Halladale near Thurso.

Mr Macartney explained that although "God's always been part of my life", his path to faith hasn't always been smooth.

"My father died when I was a teenager and I drifted away from church - but I found I missed the fellowship.

"I had been brought up with a very black and white approach to religion which I had to reconcile to the many shades I found God present in everyday life."

After graduating from university he did technical support for an internet company but didn't find this fulfilling enough.

"Sometimes it was dealing with people haggling over a £2 phone bill", he added.

He moved on to the Calman Trust, an organisation supporting young people in the Highlands who are facing homelessness.


In 2007 Mr Macartney joined the Fire Service as a call handler receiving emergency calls, which he describes as "a meaningful job with brilliant people".

During night shifts Mr Macartney took online courses to help him to stay sharp between calls.

"I chose between theology and psychology. Theology won and I was persuaded to attend a Vocations Conference.

"At the time I would have laughed if anyone had said I'd ever be a minister of word and sacrament.

Rev Dave Macartney playing frisbee
Rev Dave Macartney is a keen ultimate frisbee player

"I took the plunge after a year of doing both the Fire Service and college - I couldn't do both.

He does see similarities with the Fire Service and his new role however, as both cover extensive areas.

Another is "the need to switch from something serious to something light-hearted. When I worked for the Fire Service you would go from somebody trapped in a smoke filled room, to a cat stuck up a tree."

His wife, Kerrie, a Gaelic speaker and Mod gold medallist, has been supportive throughout despite a busy lifestyle and two children Billy, 10 and Evie, 9.

Mr Macartney was able to study at the Highland Theological College, which is based in Dingwall and was near to his family.

"I took a leap of faith that I was following God's calling and was able to do placements around Inverness. It's been really handy studying and having my placements around Inverness."

Rural ministry

Finishing his final probation placement at Alness, near the Cromarty Firth, Mr Macartney realised he had a calling to rural ministry, "because you can have such an impact on the local community".

"When you look at the list of vacancies it can be quite daunting to work out where God wants me to go", he added.

Born in Shrewsbury, Mr Macartney moved around as a child but his family settled near the Moray Firth when he was around the age of 10.

A keen ultimate frisbee player since university, Mr Macartney describes the unusual sport as "absolutely brilliant" and hopes to get local children from his parish involved.

Presbytery Clerk Rev Ronald Johnstone said he's delighted to welcome Mr Macartney.

"In January of this year we had six vacancies out of eight charges. By November we'll have filled another three.

"David is committed to rural ministry and I'm happy he has a genuine calling to the ministry.

"In an area such as Caithness is it important that spouses are able to find work - we have a similar problem with doctors and nurses - so it is excellent news that Kerrie has been able to find employment at a local school."