The Rev David McCarthy - currently minister of Greenock East End New Charge Development - has been appointed as the Church of Scotland Fresh Expressions Development Worker.
The ecumenical fresh expressions movement - which encourages, resources and offers training in new ways of being church - has seen thousands of new congregations being formed alongside more traditional churches since the initiative started in 2004.
David takes up the post on 17th February at a key time in the life of the Church of Scotland's Joint Emerging Church Group, an initiative supported by both the Mission and Discipleship Council and the Ministries Council.
The General Assembly of 2013 issued a challenge to every congregation in the Kirk to explore starting up a fresh expression of church alongside the old, recognising that even in the best attended and most missionally-minded places, there continues to be a challenge to engage with those who have no connection with mainstream Christianity.
Asked about his new role, David said,
This opportunity is a great privilege. To support churches as we share Jesus and develop fresh ways of being church is exciting. To engage with folk for whom the Christian faith and the church community is an alien space is a challenging adventure. It will be hard leaving folk in Greenock, but they too are looking forward to the next step in their story.
The Rev Colin Sinclair, Convener of the Kirk's Mission and Discipleship Council, is excited about the opportunities presented with this new development,
David's appointment allows us to begin to share in Scotland some of the experience built up over the last ten years by the fresh expressions movement in other parts of the UK. Building on the recent Vision Day, we have a chance to connect with people in Scotland who otherwise do not normally come in contact with the church.
The Ministries Council Convener, the Rev Neil Dougall said,
I'm delighted to welcome David to this new role. Around Scotland, shoots of new life are appearing in all sorts of churches. They tend to be small and fragile. They often feel isolated and under resourced. His background and experience means he understands both the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead.
Bishop Graham Cray, leader of the Fresh Expressions team, said,
I am delighted to welcome David McCarthy as he brings a wealth of relevant experience to this important new role. Through David, the Church of Scotland will be able to benefit more fully from the experience of other ecumenical partners in the UK and will enrich us all as, under his leadership, this ministry develops further in Scotland.
David has been minister in a priority area parish in the East End of Greenock since 2003, building on the work done in previous ministries as part of more traditional congregations. He was ordained into the Presbyterian Church of Ireland in 1985, and has since worked in church planting in Spain; as secretary to the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland; and - before coming to Scotland - was associate minister in a Presbyterian Church of Ireland congregation in Belfast.