South African Reverend Wiekus van Straaten is new minister at Kirk of Keith
Get a digital copy of the Grampian Group editions delivered straight to your inbox every week
A MORAY church has ended its five year search for a new full-time minister.
Reverend Wiekus van Straaten (46), from South Africa, is being inducted into Kirk of Keith: St Rufus, Botriphnie and Grange Church this evening via Zoom.
The church had been without a full-time minister since 2015 when Reverend Dr Kay Gauld left to take a new post at Insch, Leslie, Premnay, Oyne Parish Church in Aberdeenshire.
Mr Van Straaten, who was ordained as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1999, carried out a 12-month placement at St Ninian’s Church, linked with Auldearn and Dalmore Church in Nairn, before taking on this role.
On starting his new life in Moray, Mr Van Straaten said: “I am delighted, feel blessed and am looking forward to joining our spiritual family.
“In 2018, I experienced a growing conviction, after reflecting on my calling, and realised that God was preparing me for a new challenge.
“After reflection, praying and doing research on the principles, history, policies, and objectives of the Church of Scotland, I came to realise that I can identify with them to a great extent.”
Mr Van Straaten is married to Ansie with whom he has three children, Nalize, 17, Wiekus junior, 15, and Mihandri, 12, who are all looking forward to life in Moray.
The minister said he is very much in favour of carrying out home visits and connecting with parishioners.
He added: “The personal contact is invaluable and it gives the minister the opportunity to serve members in their circumstances.
“As a minister, we have to empower members to comfort, provide and, if possible, bring the gospel to others who are in need, pain, or vulnerable.
“The church needs to function as a beacon of hope and tracking station for God.”
Esther Green, an elder at St Rufus, Botriphnie and Grange Church and clerk to the nominating committee, said: "We are thrilled to welcome Wiekus and his family to Keith as we prepare to embark on an exciting new era for St Rufus, Botriphnie and Grange Church.
“Over the course of our vacancy, we have had several interim moderators who have given us excellent support and guidance and we thank each of them for their wise counsel.
“Now is our time to move forward with confidence, supporting our new minister in the journey ahead."