THE CHURCH of Scotland has hailed a new campaign to recruit ministers as a huge success.
An online video promoting the ministry has been viewed worldwide by more than 55,000 people, and the Kirk has so far accepted 19 new recruits.
A further 34 candidates will become eligible to be considered this autumn, and the Church of Scotland hopes the intake of trainees could prove be the largest for many years.
Last year only 69 people applied, and 14 candidates were accepted for full-time ministry.
This year’s “encouraging” intake is on the back of a large number of ministers – and congregations – leaving the Kirk over its stance allowing the ordination of gay ministers, passed by a slim vote by the General Assembly. A total of 21 ministers have left over the gay clergy row, with 12 defecting to The Free Church of Scotland.
The video called Tomorrow’s Calling was posted on the Church of Scotland’s Facebook page.
A large number of the Church of Scotland’s 800 ministers are due to retire over the next ten years, with some 530 reaching the age of 65 by 2025.
As a result, the Kirk has been actively seeking candidates to join the ministry through its campaign.
The video has been viewed in 45 countries, with the top five being the UK, America, Australia, Canada, and Taiwan.
One of the latest recruits is 29-year-old David Nicolson from Stornoway. Others recruited are from Aberdeen, Laurencekirk, Glasgow, Dalkeith, Loanhead, and West Lothian.
Rev Neil Glover, the convener of the Church of Scotland’s Ministries Council, said: “We have been hugely encouraged by the numbers of people signing up for our Vocations Conferences, and also entering our discernment process.
“Being a minister is a remarkable job, indeed more than a job, a remarkable calling.
“We believe there are many people, including many young people, in Scotland who are eager to give the best of themselves for the good of others, and ministry is something which allows them to do exactly that.”
On the issue of ministers and deacons in same-sex relations, he added: “Many young people are choosing to join us and devote their best efforts in the service of their faith, serving communities and leading others.
“While our Church has been going through a painful and challenging time, and it is heartening to see such growing interest and commitment to our ministry.”
Ministers and congregations throughout Scotland, particularly in the Western Isles, had quit the Church of Scotland following its decision to allow gay ordination.
Many believe the Kirk had walked away from the Bible on moral issues.
Last month’s General Assembly’s vote in favour of change allowing appointment of ministers in a same-sex marriage follows a decision to approve clergy in civil partnerships.
Following the latest vote, by 215 in favour to 195 against, the Church of Scotland’s presbyteries will now be consulted and asked to approve the plan to extend the same rights to married gay ministers by the end of 2015.
If a majority agree to it, the law change will be put to a final vote at next year’s General Assembly.