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Scottish island of 650 people seek faithful minister for 'Hawaii of the North'

Tue 14 Aug 2018
By Cara Bentley

The Isle of Tiree has been without a minister at Tiree Parish Church for two years, but a member and a pastor nearby say it's worth joining them.

Since the previous pastor left, the congregation of around 20-30 on Sundays have had visiting speakers from the mainland who often stay in the manse for a fortnight and preach for two Sundays and then return home.

Ian MacKinnon, a member of the church who has lived on the island since he was a toddler, told Premier their visiting speakers were good but the arrangement wasn't ideal: "It's quite a challenge, we've been supplied with very able preachers Sunday by Sunday... some of the members of the congregations have taken services as well but we are fully aware of our limitations!

"We'd like to have somebody who is a leader, a spiritual leader, in the community because we feel the island is in need of it and it's very much to our detriment not having one."

When asked why it's been hard to fill the vacancy, he said: "It's not everyone's cup of tea at the end of the day because people here are quite isolated."

He added that another factor was the wide range of backgrounds that exist in the congregation: "We are the only established Church of Scotland on Tiree... we work very closely with the local baptist church and there's another home church as well, a small home community, but by and large we cater for the island parish and it's difficult because in our services and during our worship we have people from a Catholic faith, someone from the Episcopal church, Church of England, we've got Methodist and traditional Church of Scotland - so it's a broad church, so it's not the kind of place that would suit everyone."

Explaining his ideal candidate, he said: "Ideally we'd be looking for somebody with a bit of experience in parish ministry in teaching the gospel, we're a fully traditional community and those of us who are church attendants are still fairly traditional but are looking to be brought into the more modern form of worship."

Tiree has a population of about 650 so "there is a 'lack of confidentiality as well," he added.

The isle also has another church, Tiree Baptist Church, who they often team up with for services. Their minister, Alan Millar, has been there 5 years and told Premier he would love a partner in the gospel.

"It is very different in one way from the mainland in the sense that... there is no escape - you're there 24/7 on the island and culturally it's very, very different from the mainland," Millar explained.

Describing who he would like to see join him in mission, Millar said: "Really someone that's got a heart for people and prepared to take time to get to know them and to get to know the island. You just can't come in and assume you know what it's like. So it's someone who loves the Lord Jesus and has got a heart for people."

Tiree Parish Church manse

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