Paisley welcomes new pioneer minister

Rev Stuart Davidson, the new pioneer minister for Ferguslie Park and north Paisley spoke to reporter Kenneth Speirs of the Paisley Daily Express for this lovely story about his mission.

Rev Stuart Davidson meets Ferguslie Park residents
Rev Stuart Davidson meets Ferguslie Park residents.

A Pioneer Minister has been appointed by the Kirk to reconnect with people in Ferguslie Park and the north end of Paisley.

It is Rev Stuart Davidson's job to go out into the community, both as a listening ear and as practical support to people who want to improve their areas and perhaps make a connection with the church.

The 54-year-old, who is a former civil servant, doesn't have a church of his own but is out and about every day and is often to be seen the Tannahill Centre, in Ferguslie Park, or the Beechwood Centre, in Shortroods.

He said: "Once I say to people that I don't have a church of my own...people will say to me ‘Oh, you're a community minister' and I'll say yes.

"I only started in mid-August and I spent a lot of the early days visiting people, visiting local charities that work in the area, visiting other community groups, council groups, the police, just anybody that seems to have any kind of interest in the community, even supermarkets and businesses.

"And that for me is a way of landing, a way for me to get to know the community, to try and grasp their aspirations and their desires, and for me to see what is happening already.

"I've no desire to replicate anything that's there already, although I'd really love to encourage it.

"But I am also looking for gaps at which point I can work with others perhaps to provide input into those gaps."

Examples of gaps might be where more youth provision is needed or more care for the elderly.
Connecting with young people is a major part of Mr Davidson's remit from the Presbytery of Greenock and Paisley.

He said: "In terms of working for the presbytery, one of the things is to try and engage with the primary schools again.

"And the other remit is to create some sort of Christian community, whatever that might look like.

"That could be a meeting in a cafe, a pub, a gym, someone's home, or in a community centre."

And if people started joining their local Kirk , then Mr Davidson would be more than happy.

"Definitely, I would be," he said.

"My perception is that there are a lot of people who don't necessarily go to church who still see themselves as Christian, and still see themselves with a spiritual connection.

"How they express that is obviously up to them, but I think in a way for me it's connecting with unchurched people – lost generations, you might say – and also people who want to connect with God in a way that is meaningful for them."

Mr Davidson believes churches are a movement and if they were to stop being such they might become institutional, and this could make it difficult for people who want to lead a Christian life to find a way into church membership.

He said: "I often use an illustration when speaking to church folk: if you've never been to a bookies before and you go into a bookies for the first time, how does it feel?

"You don't know where to start, you don't know where to begin.

"And so to me the idea is exactly the same for people with no church background coming into the building.

"It's just too much for some of them.

"Where do I sit? Where do I not sit? What books to I use?

"When do I stand up, sit down?

"The format of church is maybe something they have lost or perhaps they've been hurt by church.

"Or perhaps people's own lives make people question and maybe take a step back."

It is people's desire for a connection with church that Mr Davidson hopes to help meet and develop.

"I think people do still have a connection with church...there is a spiritual element and the question is how to meet that," he said.

Rev Stuart Davidson can be reached at 07717 503059

Photo and story courtesy of thePaisley Daily Express