Minister who married Madonna and Guy Ritchie set to 'revolutionise' worship in the Borders

A minister who has conducted the weddings of some of the most famous people in the world is taking up a new role which is set to "revolutionise" the Church of Scotland in the Borders.

Rev Dr Susan Brown has been appointed as a worship advisor within the Presbytery of Duns and will help congregations continue to thrive without a parish minister of their own.

She will spend four days a week supporting people in preparing and delivering worship and one day serving as the new minister of Greenlaw Parish Church.

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Dr Brown, who married Madonna and Guy Ritchie in 2000, Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti in 2001 and Elon Musk and Talulah Riley in 2010, will be introduced into her new role on Thursday.

Rev Dr Susan Brown has been appointed as a Worship Advisor within the Presbytery of Duns. Picture: Contributed

"It is great to see a little presbytery grappling with the challenges of ministry in a very rural area and daring to come up with such a creative way of helping communities to be living, serving and inspiring places that are passionate about god and the gospel," she said.

"Berwickshire has a long Christian history and we look forward to continuing and building on that great legacy."

Rev Dr Dane Sherrard, clerk to the Presbytery of Duns, said the appointment of Dr Brown, who was Moderator of the General Assembly in 2018-19 and is a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen, heralded the start of a new era.

"We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming Susan to our presbytery," he said.

"It is a tough challenge that she is accepting but it is one which can start to revolutionise the way that we worship god in Berwickshire.

"Over the years, the number of ministers serving our parishes has dropped until now we are faced with a future of only four full-time ministries in the whole of our county, including Berwick-upon-Tweed.

"But we have 23 places of worship and several very enthusiastic congregations which will not be able to have a minister of their own.

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"We drew up a plan – and it's not universally agreed as yet – as to how we might be able to support congregations in the future."

Dr Sherrard said it is proposed that each of the other three full-time ministers, who would dedicate one day a week to a specific parish and the other four days serving all the congregations within the presbytery, would have distinct functions.

He explained: "One would support congregations to develop their own pastoral care, one to help congregations develop their mission and outreach and one to support congregations in developing Christian educational programmes and outreach to schools.

"It's an ambitious vision but one which begins to seem possible with the appointment of Susan Brown who is brimming over with ideas of how to do this and we are a bit in awe of where she will lead us.

In May, the General Assembly approved a "common sense" plan to reduce the number of full-time equivalent ministry posts to 600.

Commissioners agreed a target for the Church to have no more than 60 charges vacant at any one time by the end of 2025.

The move, which comes against a backdrop of falling membership and long-standing financial challenges, was described as the most "far-reaching and difficult planning task" since the Church was reorganised in 1929.

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