It is now August 4. Three days ago, on Sunday, August 1, I was elected to be the pastor of Armadale Parish Church in Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland. My induction service is set for September 1. The vote was 171 for and 5 against. I was prepared for a much higher dissent, what with being an American AND a woman, so was very pleased with the outcome.
This news is still sinking in. I went out today and bought a bed frame, an iron and ironing board (for occasional use), a kettle (an essential in this country), and a toaster (an essential for me). I had forgotten how much it takes to set up a household. There is still a whole lot of shopping to do.
Being a minister in the Church of Scotland is part of the dream that led me to move here a year ago. I wanted to live here and work among the people, rather than be a tourist. It has proved to be all that I had hoped for thus far!
Armadale is a town of somewhere between 11,000 and 14,000 people (I have gotten different numbers). My new church is the only Church of Scotland in the town. So, with the exception of the folks who attend the small Methodist and the Roman Catholic Churches there, all the people of the town are considered my parishioners -- whether or not they are actual members of the Armadale Church.
The Church of Scotland considers itself a National Church with a Territorial Presence. They have made a commitment to make pastoral services (funerals, weddings, baptisms) available to every person in the country. There are geographical boundaries for each parish church covering the entire country. I haven't yet seen the boundaries for Armadale, but I suspect I may not be able to walk to every house there in 5 minutes, as some of my colleagues are able to do in their parishes. Still, I will be in a small town that has excellent access to the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow (it lies exactly halfway between them) and I can see grassland with just a few minutes' walk in nearly any direction.
I will be living in a manse (translate church-owned house) for the first time. It has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a large living room, a dining room, a study, a large kitchen, and a utility room. Best of all, for Asher and Anna, my wee canine beasties, it has a fully fenced yard. Asher has already performed a full perimeter check and pronounced it acceptable. I will move next Thursday, August 12. By the way, with that number of bedrooms, one will be set up as a guest room on a full-time basis. I will begin scheduling visitors the week after I move in. And yes, pictures will follow, as soon as I get out to take them.
What is interesting to me is that I have not felt as homesick as I thought I might over this year -- which is probably a good thing. Monday night I enjoyed a bluegrass concert at the Winchburgh church by a group called Craig Duncan and Friends from Nashville. My heart felt home with them, but it was different from homesick. Oh -- if you get a chance to hear them, I highly recommend them.