New minister ordained and inducted into the parish of West Loch Fyneside

A former hospitality worker has led her first service on Sunday as the minister of the Parish of West Loch Fyneside following her ordination the week before.

Rev Dorothy Wallace
Rev Dorothy Wallace.

Rev Dorothy Wallace was inducted to the charge on Sunday the 18 April, but has also been able to lead a few services prior to this after moving into the manse a month ago.

Referring to the 25 years she previously spent in the tourism sector she jokes that she "should be good at dishing out the elements - the bread and wine!"

Ms Wallace spent years helping to run a hotel in the Lake District, however a few years after being widowed and moving back to Scotland, she began to feel called to serve the church.

"There'd been a niggle. I was involved in the Kirk Session and the Sunday school, and initially I thought that eldership was my calling," she said.

"I then went through the discernment process thinking that I would become a deacon but realised very quickly that I was feeling a calling to be a minister of word and sacrament.

"I love people - I love visiting people and getting to know them in their own environment.

"It's meeting people where they are and getting to know them.

"I think this is why I have always felt called to rural ministry."

The mother of two remarried three years' ago and is the first minister of the newly united parish, which previously was a linked charge and includes Cumlodden, Inveraray and Lochgair.

Locals around the area will be able to see Ms Wallace out and about in the community wearing her new clerical collar.

"It just let's people know there's a minister in town," she says.

Speaking about her service of ordination and induction, Ms Wallace said ;having members of the clergy 'laying hands' as part of the ceremony was a particular highlight.

"I was blessed because my supervisor from Kilbarchan was able to come along, as well as the previous minister and the Moderator of the Presbytery so it was an incredible, empowering feeling - really beautiful. And I still managed to stand up despite my knees," she said.

"Also, because I had already taken some services I had met quite a few of the church family - it wasn't a building full of strangers.

For the future Ms Wallace is keen to help the parish to recover from Coronavirus and also look at how to continue reaching people online.

"First of all we need to have people confident enough so those who were coming to church before the pandemic come back, and then reach out into the community - that's something I'm passionate about," she said.

"It's also not just about Sunday mornings. If we want to get younger people in - even if we want people in their 40s who have kids it can be difficult - they have pony club or football going on. Having something outwith a Sunday is quite important to me.

"We've managed to work without our buildings but it's lovely when we can come together as well, it's something special.

"However, there are some people where this is not an option or a desire, so it's trying to engage with them to make sure that they feel able to benefit from the community of fellowship that we're building.

"We want to use their time and talents in the church too - we don't want to feel that they're just watching services on the TV and not able to engage properly. We want to build God's kingdom here too.

"A lot of people have had many more people watching online that we may see in a normal Sunday service and that is exciting - we have to tap into that and give those people something back.

"We cannot desert people who are engaging that way and I'm quite passionate about that.

"I've loved doing online reflections - it's more personal than watching a streamed service."

Reflecting overall on her new role, Ms Wallace said, "It's not a job, it's a call."

If you have a calling to serve within the Church of Scotland you can find out more in our vocations section.