Burntisland minister Rev. Alexander Ritchie has been appointed the new moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland.
And it is a job he is looking forward to getting his teeth into – even if it did come to him a little earlier than he expected.
As he told the Press: “It was a surprise to me and it was quite unexpected. I felt I was a bit young and maybe needed a bit more experience to take on this role, but after considering it for a bit and realising I had been nominated for a reason, I was happy to accept.”
As moderator, it will be Mr Ritchie’s job to travel around the three presbyteries of the United Free Church in Scotland supporting and encouraging their ministers and congregations, conducting services and leading the annual Assembley of the Church which began yesterday (Wednesday) in Perth.
Mr Ritchie was nominated to become moderator, a role which is held for a year, by a committee of ministers made up of representatives of the church’s three presbyteries and former moderators, which met back in October to decide.
And it will mean that cover will have to be provided for the times when he is away from his own beloved congregation in Burntisland.
“I did make some people aware of the situation and the congregation have all been very supportive since I have told them,” he explained.
“I hope this year will encourage our churches, as much as I will be encouraged by visiting them around Scotland. I trust it’ll bring new opportunities for congregations to partner more closely with other churches in the communities where they are. It is vitally important for the church to participate locally to enable us to share faith in meaningful and practical ways.”
Born and raised in Aberdeen, Mr Ritchie studied at Aberdeen University and spent more than ten years as minister at Lossiemouth in Moray before making the decision to move his family to a fresh challenge in Burntisland.
“It took a bit of adjusting, but we are all settled now and loving it in Burntisland,” he said.
“I have been with the United Free Church since I became a minister 14 years ago, and I have always been associated with it through my family and right back to when it first began in 1929.
“I will be moderator to over around 50 churches throughout Scotland and one on the Western Isles is going to be completely different from one in a city centre, so it will be very interesting.”
Mr Ritchie is not the first Burntisland minister to become moderator. His predecessor Rev. John Allan was moderator in 1998.
“It is an honour to take on this role and I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said.