Talking ministry: Rev Ross Blackman on his unusual faith journey

A former joiner and NHS manager has spoken of how his diverse career and faith background helped to shape his path into ministry.

Rev Ross Blackman

Rev Ross Blackman, who is the minister of Hamilton Old Parish and originally from Lewis, discussed his unusual journey as part of the monthly Talking Ministry series.

Reflecting on it he said: "I don't think God wastes anything - God uses our experiences and we eventually succumb to God's lead."

Mr Blackman, who is the nominee to become the Church of Scotland's next convener of the Ecumenical Relations Committee, spent the first 30 years of his life as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

"My views began to change when I came to faith in Christ reading the Bible in my living room and I suddenly had this awareness that Christ was far more than I'd been taught - for Jehovah's Witnesses, although Christ is accepted as the son of God, he's portrayed as a created angel so you wouldn't worship or pray to him," he explains.

"I embarked on getting an education and learning about churches - visiting a wide variety including Baptists, Church of Scotland, Free Church, Methodists, Roman Catholic and charismatic groups.

"However, I continued to be most attracted to the Reformed tradition and was soon engaged in lay preaching and supporting ecumenical youth groups.
Whilst working as a performance manager at The State Hospital, Carstairs, Mr Blackman said he "succumbed to the call to ministry".

"I had been putting it off for 10 years but it wasn't wasted time," he reflects.

Since being ordained in 2015, Mr Blackman describes his time as a minister as a "real privilege".

"My expectations going into Ministry were actually quite low because I carried with me that early reading in Ezekiel 3 which emphasised dependence on God and suggested to me that there was a good chance that people wouldn't be willing to listen to a word I had to say," he said.

"Having gone in with that trajectory and low expectations of what I might accomplish, the fact that lots has happened has only been a delight."

In 2016, Mr Blackman and his wife Liz, who is a trained actor, started and hosted a theatre group based in Hamilton to "help bring the gospel to life through drama".

This Fresh Expression of Church became Drama Kirk, with Liz as the director, and they have continued to perform ever since, including special online recordings during the pandemic and an annual Passion Play at Easter.

"The biggest surprise is that I feel I've been permitted to get involved in so much in such a short period of time, which I truly didn't expect," he says.

Each month throughout 2022, the Talking Ministry series will share a personal story from those serving in Christian ministry, as well as discernment resources filled with questions, prayers and reflections to help encourage your own reflection on how God might be calling you.

You can read Rev Ross Blackman's full interview and access the resources for April on our Talking Ministry page.