Island and African connections make new minister feel at home in Argyll charge
Published on 17 November 2023
New minister Rev Trudi Newton is getting back to her island roots with her first charge.
Originally from Harray on the Orkney Mainland, this week saw her ordination as full-time minister of Word and Sacrament for the parish of Colonsay and Oronsay, linked with Netherlorn, and includes both mainland and island congregations.
The ordination service at Kilbrandon Church on the Island of Seil included a sermon from Rev Alex MacCallum, who was himself recently ordained as the new minister of Kilmore and Oban, linked with Tiree, as well as music from local community choirs and members of the congregation, with friends, family and fellow students in attendance.
"Reading the parish profile was like reading my CV"
Miss Newton's ordination comes a little over two months since she was invited to preach as sole nominee to the Argyll charge. Following that service, which took place at Kilbrandon Church on Seil Island and was livestreamed to the parish church on Colonsay, the joint congregation voted to invite her to take on the role of minister, an invitation she did not have to think hard about accepting.
"When I read the parish profile, it was like reading my CV," she said.
"There were so many connections and so many things I am passionate about and that I had experience in.
"I've been across several times and everyone is just so warm and welcoming. It feels right and I'm really looking forward to working alongside the people here."
Her induction marks the culmination of a journey towards ministry which dates back to her teens.
"I first thought about going into the ministry when I was 17," she revealed.
"I went to an enquirers' conference, as they were known then, and that led to me studying for a MA in Religious Studies at New College in Edinburgh."
This was followed by three months in Malawi, continuing the link between Netherlorn and the African nation. Netherlorn's previous minister, Rev Dr Kenneth Ross, left Argyll in 2019 to become the Church of Scotland's new mission partner in Malawi, having already set up the Seed for Life Project to support development work in Malawi.
"It is exciting that there is that connection," Miss Newton said.
She then returned to Orkney to explore her interest in children's ministry and worked in similar positions in a number of churches throughout Scotland before starting exploring the possibility of going into full-time ministry in 2015.
This led to a Bachelor of Divinity course at St Andrews, along with various church and chaplaincy placements, as well as probationary periods in Geneva, Fife and Angus.
"My last few months of probation were spent at Monifieth, which was great and gave me a chance to be really me and get a good glimpse of what ministry could be like," Miss Newton added.
Miss Newton is the first minister of the united charge, which recently expanded to include Colonsay and Oronsay.
Kilchattan Church on the Isle of Luing and Kilbrandon on Seil host services on alternative weeks, as do Kilmelford and Craignish. This means Miss Newton will preach at each of these churches on average once a month, with visits to Colonsay several times a year.
The other services will be led by the congregation's experienced worship team in Netherlorn, and visiting preachers and a Reader in Colonsay.
"It's fascinating that each different part of the parish has got its own flavour, which is really special and unique to each individual part," she said.
"I am looking forward to working with people and getting to know the communities and just seeing what the possibilities are and where God might be calling us."
With her background in children's ministry, she is particularly looking forward to working with people of all ages and building on the positives she has already seen within the Netherlorn parish.
She said: "What I am extremely passionate about is intergenerational ministry and what we can learn from each other and share with each other and be there as a family of God. That is something that is very dear to my heart."