From Tennessee to Buckie: new minister welcomed after 7 years

A new minister has settled 3,800 miles from his home in the US to fill a vacancy in a Moray church, more than seven years after their parish first became vacant.

Rev Wes Brandon with other recent transfers from the PCUSA (L-R) Rev Holly Smith (Mid Deeside Church), Rev Teri Peterson (Gourock St John's Church) and Rev Laurene Lafontaine (Kingswells Church)
Rev Wes Brandon with other recent transfers from the PCUSA (L-R) Rev Holly Smith (Mid Deeside Church), Rev Teri Peterson (Gourock St John's Church) and Rev Laurene Lafontaine (Kingswells Church)

Rev Wes Brandon, 49, has taken up the role at Buckie South and West linked with Enzie Church of Scotland after leaving his home state of Tennessee behind last year.

He said: "One summer whilst I was at seminary school in the US I did an internship at the Auld Kirk in Ayr.

"Seventeen years later I've gone through familiarisation in Sherwood Greenlaw Church in Paisley to take up a charge in the Church of Scotland."

Fittingly, Mr Brandon, who was inducted in Buckie last week, was preached in by Rev David Gemmell, the minister he first interned for in Ayr.

Mr Brandon has been based at four previous churches with the Presbyterian Church of the USA, and is enthusiastic about his new role.

"My heart has always been for churches that other ministers sometimes overlook", he said.

"For me I've always felt my ministry is for those who have been neglected, such as in rural charges.

"Buckie has the largest Boys Brigade in the UK and I thought how can you not have a minister - it's so beautiful here.

"I intentionally looked away from churches in the Central Belt."

Rev Wes Brandon with his mum Phyllis
Rev Wes Brandon with his mum Phyllis

One of the ways he intends to involve people in church life who perhaps are not members is by live-streaming weekly services.

"The things I focus on are making sure there are opportunities for young people, both within the local community and from a church point of view", he said.

"Stories drive my ministry and it's important to show people where Christ can meet them.

Mr Brandon, whose last charge in the US was in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, said "I grew up a city boy but I love the outdoors."

He has been joined in the manse by two other new arrivals- a pair of kittens. Fin and Knockie, named after two local villages, were a gift from a friend.

A keen reader, Mr Brandon is particularly interested in Scottish history and loves to take photographs of every church he visits.

Asked what he misses most from his home country, he laughs and says Mexican food.

Session Clerk Alma Blackhall said: "We are absolutely delighted after all these years - we're so excited and hope Wes will have a long and fruitful ministry here in Buckie."

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