Rugby-playing ‘Vicar of Libby’ is set for kick-off in his new parish

From pitch to pulpit: Liberton Rugby Club's Jonny Clipston  is now a kirk minister in Aberdeen. Picture: contributed
From pitch to pulpit: Liberton Rugby Club's Jonny Clipston is now a kirk minister in Aberdeen. Picture: contributed
Share this article
0
Have your say

A rugby player nicknamed “The Vicar of Libby” by his rugby club mates is being ordained today as the new minister of a church in Aberdeen.

Wing forward Jonny Clipston, a former fitness instructor, will be ordained this evening and will become the new minister of Newhills Church in Bucksburn. It will be Mr Clipston’s first full-time post since changing career from a fitness instructor.

Rugby lends itself really well as an illustration in sermons because of the different positions – a winger can’t say they don’t need a prop

REV JONNY CLIPSTON Newhills Church

Mr Clipstondid his probation at Liberton Kirk in Edinburgh. He joked that despite playing for Liberton Rugby Club, which is in East Region League Division Three – one of the lowest rugby leagues in Scotland – he would use anecdotes from his rugby days to illustrate his sermons.

“The players at Liberton are a fantastic bunch of guys, but terrible at rugby,” he said. “But I’ve never said that to them because I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

“But they’re actually coming along this season, getting better, which is good because there’s never been a big feeder system into the club.”

Mr Clipston, whose grew up in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders and whose father is a minister, studied sports and exercise science with psychology at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh before working for the Centre 81 social enterprise in Garelochhead, near Helensburgh.

He said: “Rugby lends itself really well as an illustration in sermons because of the different positions – a winger can’t say they don’t need a prop.

“Thinking about Liberton Rugby Club I would say the best thing about them is their inclusive nature. Everyone is welcome and the players 
really to look out for each other.

“For this reason quite a few people who want to learn rugby as an adult have chosen Liberton Rugby club to do it.

“I think part of the reason the reaction of rugby clubs have been positive is because I challenge the stereotype of what they think a minister is. I enjoy it is because people feel free to ask you questions and I’m often challenged by what people looking at the church perceive of it. I feel this aspect also really helps in ministry.”