Rev. John Collard (our Interim Minister)

Dear Friends,

I am writing this letter having been in the Manse exactly one week and I want to say a huge thank you to all of you for the warmth of your welcome.  

A good number of you helped to get the Manse ready, providing furniture, cleaning and painting, so that my moving-in was much less hassle than it might have been.  Many more of you have gone out of your way to greet me at church, in Tesco (!) or in the town and have been very gracious in your welcoming words.  And then of course there was the welcome that was the Jazz Service on 11th June!  At the moment my head is spinning and it will take me a little while to get all your names right so please remind me a few times.

As you know, I am with you as an Interim Minister – which means I’m here fulltime but only short-term, probably 18 months to 2 years.  I will take responsibility for all the things a Minister usually does, worship, pastoral care, outreach etc and in addition, Interim Ministry has a deliberate focus.  That focus is on addressing the issues of your particular situation - in order that when the Right of Call is returned to the congregation, at the end of the Interim Ministry period, you can call a settled Minister with confidence.

So the first few weeks for me will be spent in listening and talking with as many as I can.  I have already started meeting some of you and reading background papers and reports to help me better understand your situation.  Over the summer period we have arranged two ‘Open Forum’ occasions to give an opportunity for informal discussion:

Thursday July 27th 7.30pm – at the Manse - for Kirk Session and Congregational Board
Thursday August 24th 7.30pm – at the Parish Hall - for the whole congregation

These discussions will feed into a meeting that will take place later, possibly in September, of the Transition Support Group.  A Transition Support Group (TSG) is appointed in every Interim Ministry situation to help the congregation move on.  It will consist of 3 members appointed by Presbytery, 3 appointed by the national committee and another Interim Ministry colleague. This group will meet with the whole congregation and help us to draft some Aims and Objectives specific to this situation. Once agreed, these Aims and Objectives will be an important part of the focus for the Interim Ministry period. You will hear more about this in the weeks ahead.

On a practical note, I will be living in the Manse for about 10 days a fortnight, and then back home in East Kilbride, where my wife, Anne, will continue living.  You can contact me through the Manse number (330489), where there is also an answering machine, by mobile phone – 07762 567813 or by email – jcollard@churchofscotland.org.uk

John Collard
Interim Minister