An award-winning campaigner has been appointed the new spiritual leader of a cluster of Aberdeenshire churches.
Rev Linda Pollock said it is a “privilege” to take the reins at Aberluthnott linked with Laurencekirk Parish Church within the Church of Scotland’s Presbytery of Kincardineshire and Deeside.
“I feel a little daunted at the immense responsibility but I am working alongside good people who have worked very hard to maintain a spiritual presence these past few years without a minister leading them,” she added.
“I also feel very privileged because getting to be alongside people at the most vulnerable and the most joyous times in their lives is a priceless gift.
“I love that I am entrusted with committing their beloved family members to God at death and that I welcome their children into the Church.
“Trust is a huge responsibility and I intend to live up to that trust to the very best of my ability.”
Ms Pollok, who originally hails from Northern Ireland, moved to the north-east after spending seven years as the minister of Possilpark Parish Church in Glasgow.
She successfully led a campaign to prevent teenage brothers, Somer and Areeb Umeed Bakhsh, from being forced to leave their home in Glasgow and deported to Pakistan where Christians face persecution.
The boys and their parents were granted residential status in the UK until February next year and Ms Pollock and her team scooped the Campaigner of the Year award at the Herald Society Awards in 2019.
Asked why she decided to move on from Possilpark Parish Church, the minister said: “I had been feeling a ‘holy restlessness’ for a wee while.
“After we secured ‘leave to remain’ for our asylum-seeking family from Pakistan and our man from Vietnam, I felt it was okay to move to a new charge.
“It would have been impossible for me to leave knowing that I hadn’t completed that part of my mission.
“I wouldn’t walk away lightly from a parish after being there seven years with people I had come to love very much but I knew it was time for someone else to walk with the people of Possilpark.”
Ms Pollock admitted that the Aberdeenshire parish, which comprises Laurencekirk, Marykirk and Luthermuir churches, is a “world away in many ways” from Glasgow.
“I love this new rural ministry and I am looking forward to lockdown being lifted so that I may get involved in as many aspects of life here as possible,” she added.
“I used to travel to Aberdeen from Glasgow a few times a year and I remember feeling breathless at the beauty as the train passed through this area.
“That hasn’t changed and everywhere I look I see deep, intense beauty and it feels like my eyes have constant indigestion from the overload.”
Ms Pollock said she has been “profoundly moved” by the welcome she has received from her new congregants.
“Flowers and cards and food have been delivered and the generosity is very humbling,” she added.
“The hospitality is rich and hospitality is everything for it reflects the nature of God.
“Going forward, my hope is to simply walk with people as they go about living their lives, to offer support and kindness and, if invited to, I will show them where and how I encounter God.”
Alison Duncan, Session Clerk at Laurencekirk Church, said people are delighted that Ms Pollock has joined them.
“It is fantastic news and we are so pleased that we have a full-time minister working with us after so many years,” she added.
“Linda is very approachable, friendly and down to earth and we are looking forward to, when restrictions allow, bolstering our presence in the community and being more visible.”
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