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Meet the first Presbytery Clerk of the new Presbytery of the North East and the Northern Isles

By David Porter

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Rev. Elspeth McKay is set to leave her current post as minister at Paisley Abbey, Church of Scotland to become the first Presbytery Clerk of the new Presbytery of the North East and the Northern Isles.

The new presbytery unites the Presbyteries of Aberdeen and Shetland, Orkney, Moray, Buchan, Gordon and Kincardine and Deeside.

Rev Elspeth McKay
Rev Elspeth McKay

She will be based at the Presbytery Office in Aberdeen and is already familiar with the city as she has studied, worked and met her husband in Aberdeen.

She completed her Masters’ studies in European and International Law at the University of Aberdeen.

After working at the university and Moray College for some time she recalls that she had felt a call to ministry and undertook some enquiry placements in Turriff and Auchaber United.

She then returned to study her BD at the University of Aberdeen as her call to ministry took priority.

During her ministry training she completed placements in Kintore Parish Church, Ferryhill Parish Church and Papa Westray.

Whilst in the final year of her degree, she was Locum at Ferryhill Parish Church.

She completed her probation at South Holburn Parish Church with the late Rev George Cowie.

Elspeth has vast experience as a Church of Scotland minister within small and large churches, such as Echt and Midmar and the large parish of Cumbernauld and now at Paisley Abbey.

Elspeth’s reputation for involving live animals in her Christmas story services has gained her much publicity both at Echt and Midmar and at Cumbernauld. Cows, sheep, horses and donkeys were involved in her the services.

She said, “ A high point was ‘Follow the Star’ which was an interactive nativity story through Cumbernauld Village where parts of the nativity story were told by different characters in the story at different points in the Village.

"A donkey played a large part in this event too! I was even seen wearing a tutu, angel wings and a halo as the narrator!”

Elspeth is also proud say that her charge at Paisley Abbey also led her to mingle with TV celebrity.

She said, “I met Aled Jones one day and on the next was interviewed by Katherine Jenkins for Songs of Praise from the Abbey”

Her early years were spent in Windsor and Cambridge and the Isle of Coll in the Hebrides where her family had built a house.

Her ambition as a young adult was to focus on a career in Law and after graduating from Staffordshire University she worked for Butterworths Law publishers and became a member of the professional organisation, the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in London. Elspeth’s projects took her to Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan and Greece.

Elspeth brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role of Presbytery Clerk for the Presbytery of the North East and the Northern Isles.

The new Presbytery will be formed in January 2023 and includes Orkney, Shetland, Moray, Buchan, Gordon, Aberdeen and Kincardine and Deeside.

Rev. Peter Johnston, member of the steering group for the new Presbytery said, “We are delighted to welcome Rev Elspeth McKay to this new role as we journey into the future as a much larger Presbytery and look forward to the insight she will bring both from her legal background and as a parish minister who recognises the reforming nature of the Kirk in this time of change.”

Elspeth said, “I am very much looking forward to returning to the North-East and to getting to know the Northern Isles a bit better.

"I’m also looking forward to meeting people as we forge the way ahead with the new Presbytery of the North East and the Northern Isles.”

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