Church welcomes first-ever minister

Rev Hugh Ferrier.
Rev Hugh Ferrier.

One of the biggest congregations on the Isle of Lewis are set to welcome their first-ever minister next week.

The induction of Rev Hugh Ferrier to the High Free Church Stornoway, which was only formed last year, takes place on Friday 6 November beginning at 7pm.

Because the High Free Church are without their own building and presently worship in Stornoway Primary School, the induction will be hosted by Stornoway Free Church on Kenneth Street.

Rev Andrew Coghill, Moderator of the Western Isles Presbytery and minister of Scalpay Free Church, will preach and preside at the induction service, Knock’s Rev James Maciver will address the newly inducted minister, and Point Free Church’s Rev Dr Iain D Campbell will give a word of encouragement to the congregation.

Afterwards a fellowship will be held in the MA Macleod Hall.

Rev Hugh Ferrier said: “There’s a sense of joy about coming to Lewis - an island I’ve loved ever since I did a placement in Barvas Free Church in 2011.

“There’s also a feeling of excitement about serving in the High Free Church -- one of the things that drew me to them was their love for God’s Word and their love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ along with their desire to see others love this same Jesus.

“There’s also anticipation about seeing what God will do in and through the High Free.”

The former Caithness minister added: “There’s also a sense of my own inadequacy and awareness of my absolute need for God’s sufficient grace and a tinge of sadness too about leaving Caithness and Sutherland and the people who have been such a big part of my life over the last few years.

“Going from serving four smaller congregations spread over 50 miles to one large congregation centred in one town will be a big difference!”

Mr Ferrier continued: “All I’d say to any non-Christians not yet attending Church is to warmly invite them to come along.

“They’re not going to hear good advice from people who have got it all sorted. They’ll hear good news about the Living, Risen Christ Whose Grace deals with all our pasts, and Who declares that He is with His People in the Present and Who Promises us a wonderful Future and Hope.

“And my prayer is they wouldn’t simply hear about this Jesus but would personally encounter Him in the Gospel.

Hugh grew up in Alness, attending Invergordon Academy. During his final year at high school, Church of Scotland men Rev Rob Jones and Rev Ronald Morrison used to take Mr Ferrier on placement each Wednesday in their congregations.

He then studied at St Andrews University where he graduated with a degree in Biblical Studies, before a further three years at the Free Church College in Edinburgh.

During his time as a Free Church student, he had placements at Leith, Barvas, Helmsdale, Thurso and other north coast congregations.

He was licensed for the ministry by the Northern Presbytery in June 2012, before accepting the team ministry post with Thurso and North Coast Free Church congregation later that year.

Through worship services, Bible studies and youth groups the Caithness congregation has seen much blessing during Hugh’s ministry, including seven new members – two by profession of faith – last year.

The High Free Church officially joined at the October Commission of Assembly last year, and regularly attracts around 300 people in Stornoway Primary School.

Mr Ferrier is expected to take his first service as minister of the High Free Church on Sunday 8 November.