It was a joy and a blessing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Fiona’s induction at AUC at the beginning of January.
We reproduce here an edited version of Fiona’s Statement of Call.
Statement of Call
I grew up in Aberdeen, and as a young teenager, thanks to the love, grace and transportation of Marion McKean, joined Mastrick Congregational Church. It was during one of the Youth Assemblies, as I sat on a step in the Chapel of St Andrews University, that I believe I heard the first whispers of a calling to ordained ministry.
Having a deferred place at Edinburgh to study Divinity, I spent a year in Austria working with a small Baptist church. My German improved considerably, but as they did not allow women in leadership, my call to ordained ministry, along with other aspects of my faith, were repeatedly challenged.
I came to New College with a deep sense of calling and doubt, and discovered new ways to engage with theology and scripture, which I experienced as very liberating.
After my second year I was invited to spend a year working as a youth worker in a Presbyterian church in Seattle. “It was a blast” as the kids would have said, and I came home and applied for ordained ministry.
I was ordained in 1996, at which point there were no SCC congregations in the central belt, where my soon-to-be husband Peter was working. For the next five years I was minister to two Methodist churches in Wishaw where I loved the people and the care of the small community. At the end of my stationing, one husband and one child later, we began to look around. I was keen to serve in ministry but had an itch in my feed to do something a bit different.
Peter Macdonald of St George’s West, Church of Scotland, approached me and asked if I would be interested to become their associate and setting up a project to engage with folk coming into the city centre who did not belong to the Church. So followed the seven tremendous years of setting up what became Creative Space.
I discovered that city centre ministry is in nature and form different to ministry in a residential community and my experience at St George’s West filled my imagination with possibilities. After seven years, with another two children, again my feet began to itch as I recognised within myself the desire to use the wisdom and experience I had gained, largely working with folk outside the church and in the city centre, and to tie together with my experience in building up a congregation. And there was Augustine right on my doorstep!
It is a new chapter in the story of our family and a new chapter in the story of Augustine. If my experience so far is anything to go on, I trust they are adventures in the making.
Fiona Bennett, January 2009