The Free Church of Scotland officially welcomed two new congregations and two new ministers from the Church of Scotland at its Commission of Assembly in Edinburgh last week.
Rev David Macleod and Rev Roddy MacRae join after leaving their respective congregations in Wester Ross, whilst two groups joined from Tarbert on the Isle of Harris and Stornoway High on the Isle of Lewis.
The Tarbert group will be known as North Harris Free Church, and the Stornoway group as the High Free Church Stornoway.
North Harris have seen around 100 people coming along to their inaugural services.
In Stornoway, the High Free Church has regularly attracted around 300 people in Stornoway Primary School since leaving the Church of Scotland earlier this year.
Christopher Martin, from the High Free Church Stornoway, said: “We are greatly encouraged with the support and warm welcome from right across the Free Church.
“God has really blessed us in past days, and we look to him to lead and to guide the congregation.
“Our prayer is for unity and the Lord’s blessing as we seek to appoint our own Kirk Session.”
Representatives from the North Harris congregation said: “We are very happy that we have been warmly accepted into the Free Church.
“We were encouraged by the numbers that gathered for our first worship services last Sunday, and we now look forward to the Lord’s blessing on the congregation as we would seek to play a full part in the furtherance of Christ’s Kingdom in Harris.”
The Free Church also welcomed former Applecross, Lochcarron and Torridon minister Rev David Macleod along with his Glenelg and Kintail colleague Rev Roddy MacRae.
Mr Macleod, 40, said: “I’m delighted to have been accepted to serve in the Free Church, where there is a determination to hold to the authority of God’s Word and such enthusiasm to reach out with the Good News about Jesus Christ.”
Mr MacRae, 44, added: “I leave the Church of Scotland with a heavy heart.
“I am gutted at the direction it has taken over the years and what I believe is tragic for Scotland.
“Yet I am absolutely delighted to be joining the Free Church.
“I am very grateful that they have opened their doors for me and other evangelicals.
“They are a church that has become very missional in outlook and care for the gospel with a deep love for the people of Scotland.
“I am deeply grateful for their love of the scriptures.”
Both ministers are now available for a call to churches without a minister, and the two new congregations are expected to form their own Kirk Sessions very soon.
The arrival of Mr Macleod and Mr MacRae bring the number of former Church of Scotland ministers who have recently joined the Free Church to 10.
It also means that the Church of Scotland now only has one full-time parish minister covering the Isle of Skye, North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula, Harris, as well as parts of Wester Ross and Sutherland – an area bigger than the size of Wales.
All departing parties expressed regret and sadness at the Church of Scotland’s continuing drift away from the teaching of the Bible on various issues.