Dreghorn and Springside Parish Church Call a New Minister
Interview with Jamie Milliken, Minister Elect of Dreghorn and Springside Parish Church.
Interviewed by Stewart McConnell, Reporter for the Irvine Times. An extract of this interview appeared in the Irvine Times on Tuesday 21st January 2020.
How did your application to Dreghorn and Springside Parish Church come about?
My good friend Neil Urquhart is minister of Fullarton church in Irvine and while Dreghorn and Springside have not had a minister he has been helping to manage and lead the congregation. We go out cycling together, one day he mentioned the church vacancy and commented that he had always found the folks there to be faithful, kind and community focused. I thought to myself, now that’s the kind of congregation I want to be part of. Things started from there, I did a bit of research and then made contact.
Was there a calling to the Church?
The congregation voted on Sunday and it was unanimous, with 176 members and adherents voting for me to be their new minister. Over the next couple of weeks there will be an opportunity for folks to sign the call. The call will then be presented to me at my induction service.
How do you feel about being elected minister?
I’m really happy to be elected minister. They’re a very friendly, welcoming congregation with a desire to faithfully serve in the local community. We share the same goals and I’ll be joining a great team of people. I really enjoyed meeting all the young people on Sunday, they’re a busy, vibrant Sunday School that’ll keep me on my toes!
Do you like the Church building?
The Church building has an unusual hexagonal design and from a minister’s point of view, its rounded shape means that the congregation are much closer to me and closer together, this means it feels much more personal.
Why did this particular Charge appeal to you?
When my wife Joanne and I first discussed a return to parish ministry we both agreed that we were looking for a loving and faithful community to be part of and lead. Through conversations, listening to the congregation’s goals and meeting the congregation we are convinced we are in the right place.
We have found Dreghorn and Springside Parish Church want to affirm and hold on to the best of our tradition, which I recognise as being faithful, worshipping and learning from God together, studying the Bible and living it out in love for God and others. Being a Parish Church, it is a church for everyone, serving and sharing the good news of Jesus through words and loving action. Dreghorn and Springside is positive about the faith we have and truly believe that following Jesus has blessed us and want to share this blessing with others.
While holding on to the best of our tradition, there is also a real willingness to express this in new ways. In the autumn the congregation held a special day where members and friends of the congregation met and talked about their hope for the future. From that has come some great ideas of how the congregation can continue to be faithful, relevant and engaging today and tomorrow. This involves new areas of service and ministry, and from that, enabling more people to be involved. I really enjoy helping people to develop their gifts and skills and grow into the person God can help them be.
We have many close family and friends who live locally, and I was recently helped by a friend to reflect on calling being predominantly about love; love for the congregation and also love for the folks we already love and want to remain close to. These are significant reasons for being here.
I have many friends in the local Presbytery and in ministry in Irvine. The opportunity to work, worship and witness alongside them also really appeals to me because we can achieve so much more when we work together.
What you do you see as being the main challenges?
The challenges that face the church are substantial and we talk a lot about falling numbers of members, ministers and church buildings. My experience in Naval Chaplaincy has encouraged me to see that the church cannot sit back and expect people to come to us, but rather the church is at our best when we are out there among the people sharing our faith by word and action in the everyday. The challenge then is about equipping people to grow as disciples of Jesus and be positive, articulate and expressive about our faith whoever and wherever we are.
Are you looking forward to the role?
I’m really looking forward to this new calling. Being a Naval Chaplain has given great opportunities to meet younger people who ordinarily would be unlikely to want to talk with a minister or consider what the Christian faith has to offer them. However, I have missed regular contact with other Christians, leading worship, preaching and teaching and helping people reach their potential.
What is your title in the Royal Navy, and do you enjoy it?
I currently serve as a Chaplain with the Royal Navy based at Faslane, up the Clyde. I have been moved to Faslane because I’m leaving the service. Before this I have been working alongside Royal Marines at RM Condor in Arbroath for the last one and a half years.
My official title is Chaplain; however, sailors mostly call me ‘Bish’ and Royal Marines call me ‘Padre’. I had previously served as a Reservist Chaplain for four and a half years and more recently as a Regular for what will be almost two years when I leave the service. The Royal Navy offered me the opportunity to continue as a Reservist, but I have decided not to as I would like to focus attention on serving and leading in my new parish.
I have been to some great places with the Royal Marines, including the deserts of California working alongside the US Marine Corp and most recently on operations in the Baltic. I have found the hardest part of Service life to be the long periods away from family and friends and I have the greatest respect for the men and women who continue to do this in the Armed Services and for the families and friends who support them back home.
You were a Police Officer in your first career, tells us about that?
I joined Strathclyde Police 30 years ago and served for eight years in North Ayrshire on the beat and in Crime Prevention. I also occasionally visited Greenwood Academy and the old Dreghorn Primary school to give safety and drug and alcohol awareness presentations and am looking forward to getting to know the schools again, along with Springside Primary, in my new post. If I’d stayed in the Police, I would retire this month with a full pension! But I’m not complaining too much, ministry has been the fulfilment of a call by God on my life and I look forward to this new calling and what God has in store here.
Which other Churches have you been minister to and what have you enjoyed most?
I have been the minister of a linked church in Dumfries and most recently of Troon: Portland Church. I also served as an Associate minister at the Howard Centre in Kilmarnock, helping to build a bridge between the church and the community and develop projects to support and build up local congregations. I really enjoy seeing people grow through a sense of belonging to the congregation and God’s family, through worshipping and learning together and then seeing people taking their faith and living this out in their daily lives.
When did you leave Portland and how long had you been there?
I left Portland in May 2017 to join the Royal Navy as a Regular Chaplain. I was inducted in October 2011, so that’s six and a half years as minister of Portland Church.
Did you enjoy it?
Yes, I was the minister of a busy congregation with a great team of people to serve alongside and first-class colleagues in the other congregations of the town who I had the privilege to know, pray with, worship and serve alongside. Through Troon Churches Together we had some great projects and missions that really served the people of Troon and beyond.
What do you like most about ministry?
I think the best place for any of us to be in the place where God would have us be. Living in that flow, meeting other people and sharing, worshipping, praying, serving and encouraging each other to be all that they can be through the love and leadership of Jesus Christ, that’s what I enjoy most about ministry.