In June our minister , Rev. David Cameron celebrated 25 years of Ministry. Having served in his first charge , Maxwell Mearns Castle , west of Glasgow, for 16 years and here for almost 9, this seemed a good time to reflect over his life of Ministry.
- How did you come to be the minister in QPC.?
It began on a golf course overlooking the Kyles of Bute . I was shooting for the green with a 7 iron and feeling my life was in a bit of a transition phase. I idly tossed up a prayer ‘ Lord, is there anything by way of a calling you have for me?
That night I awoke from a dream with the strong impression I should become Minister in QPC. I had met Guy Douglas, then session clerk, on the Church Without Walls project, but otherwise I knew nothing about Queensferry. I didn’t even know there was a vacancy. It was a very powerful moment of calling requiring the proverbial ‘leap of faith’
- The public face of the minister is usually just on a Sunday. Can you describe a typical day?
A typical day? No such thing. Today started with a meeting about a cross-community support project, followed by preparation for and then conducting a funeral. Then phone calls to set up another funeral followed by another ministerial meeting. After this interview I am meeting a couple to arrange their wedding, and of course I always need to find time to check emails and respond to urgent business.
- Striking in the answer to this question is the emotional and psychological range that the average day holds. To turn from supporting a grieving family to planning for the happiest day in a couple ‘s lives requires great strength of character and must be tough at times?
Indeed. I have learned that it is important to prepare and recover properly afterwards. After a particularly difficult funeral I will ensure the diary is lighter for the rest of the day.
In the early 80’s, at a time when many ministers were experiencing stress and overload,
a paper presented to the general assembly suggested 7 basic tasks for ministry.
- Preaching and teaching
- Pastoring and caring
- Leadership and planning
- Mission and evangelism
- Administration and organisation
- Presbytery and assembly
- Personal devotion and study
I use the analogy of plate spinning. Keeping all these tasks in the air is a challenge. And, following this analogy the plates have to be paper as they may often wobble and sometimes they fall.
- What do you think are your particular strengths?
A difficult question, perhaps someone else should answer that one!
At school I enjoyed English interpretation. Taking a passage from a book, conveying and summarising its meaning. I like to bring that element to my preaching and teaching.
And when listening to a bereaved family I hope to bring this craft to my writing so that those less familiar with the deceased will have an illustrative picture of their loved one.
I enjoy people and company. Coming to Queensferry has awakened the sense of community within my ministry. In my previous church, which was a city suburb , it was the church which was the community, but here the church sits within a wider community. This brings different and in some ways greater challenges.
- What element of Ministry are you most passionate about?
- What do you get the most satisfaction from?
The symbol of the Cross, reaching upwards to God, outwards to the world is very important to me. Helping people hear from God so they can step out in faith, seeing people through testing times, discovering the relevance of faith. Journeying with people awakened to faith, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
- Ministers minister but who ministers the Minister?
I feel that I receive ministry on a number of levels.
Staying in touch with God is vital. I feel God is ministering to me through the acts and actions of my own ministry.
The ministerial support groups of QPC and Presbytery are very important and the Church of Scotland provides study leave annually to allow ministers to take time out to reflect and recharge.
I try very hard to reserve a day each month for personal reflection. I often go to the Bield, a Christian retreat and conference centre in Perthshire www.bieldatblackruthven.org.uk. I will go with ‘baggage’, stuff which needs done, but usually realise all I’m meant to do is to stop, connect and be still in the presence of the One who called me here.
And then there is the Uno society.
- The UNO society?
The Uno society consists of approx 10 guys. We all went through Ministerial training together and would play Uno long into the evenings after conferences and especially challenging lectures. When we qualified we dispersed to charges all over Scotland and we agreed to meet up 2-3 times each year for prayer, encouragement and lunch . Twenty-five years later we continue to do this along with our wives. Peer support such as this is invaluable.
- Most families relax and have ‘together time’ at the weekends, just when you are seen to be working hardest. How do you juggle Ministry commitments with family life?
Badly. It’s a challenge. Marrying a very gracious lady has made the challenges bearable.
When I was first considering ministry we had 2 small children. Lesley was initially horrified at the prospect but I am glad to say she quickly became excited as she experienced the same sense of calling which we have shared since throughout these 25 years.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is living with someone who works Monday – Friday. Her weekend is Sat /Sun, whereas mine is Sat and Monday.
We have family with grandchildren in York and Lenzie and it takes a bit of planning and juggling to fit in visits to them, whilst maintaining my Sunday presence here.
- Up to this point what do you regard as your most significant achievement?
I thought I would answer this from the several phases of my ministry, so far.
In my previous charge my predecessor was a gifted Bible preacher. The congregation was well taught, I could do little more for them in that regard. But I rejoiced to see folk taking this teaching and reaching out in faith, some to ministry here and overseas, some to pastoral support roles, some simply into their homes and workplaces.
In Dalmeny seeing the development of the halls project from conception to completion and the early days of its phenomenal success.
In QPC it was a great challenge taking the congregation, traumatised after John’s untimely death, forward. Finding ways to respect his memory and encouraging new teams and new expressions of faith and actions.
In 2010 there was a call from the General Assembly for each church to plant a new church by 2020. We have only 2 years left!!! So there is a lot of work still to do.
- What gets you stressed and how do you deal with stress?
Admministration! Managing expectation and demands.
The ministerial training I had was purely academic. It did not include any managerial skills. Happily this is different now but I had to learn all about the business of a ’working church’ on the job. Make it up as you go along as it were.
- How do you manage your time and prioritise?
Ministry is both predictable and unpredictable, planned and unexpected. It is always a challenge. Key events , like the weekly team meetings provide a grounding structure.
- Where would you like to see QPC in 5 years time?
We already have a vision for 2020. Soon we will need to look beyond that.
I would like to see the Church refurbished in all its aspects to meet the needs of the 21stCentury, enabling people to step out locally, nationally, even globally in acts of service and ministry.
Here in Queensferry I would like to see fresh expressions of Church coming to fruition with new Church planting and with the further growing of our team structure,
- Can you describe a particular situation or task which you found difficult or challenging and what did you learn from this?
I was one of a small group invited by another presbytery to help a struggling group of churches. Having met with them and listened carefully to their grievances we put forward a solution. Our proposals were rejected. This was intensely frustrating and I did not agree with what they subsequently proposed. The positive, however, was that the work we did empowered them to take ownership and develop their own solutions.
- Most people’s encounters with God are intensely personal. Is there a particular experience which you feel you can share when you felt the presence of God?
The initial spark of faith came for me by a pond in Pollock estate. I had a Bible with me which fell open at Galatians 5 22-23 , the passage about the power and fruits of the spirit . As I read I had an overwhelming sense of the presence and peace of God.
More recently in a cocktail bar beside the River Thames with Lesley and my sister in law a woman engaged us in conversation. It was a very random encounter but I just knew God was present. There she was , talking to us and there was God, present in the moment. I do not know or understand what exactly it was but somehow it was a transformative moment for her. Something happened. It was remarkable
- What is your favourite way to relax?
Good food in the company of family and friends. And golf of course.
- What was the last film you saw or book you read? (other than the Bible)
Movie- Peter Rabbit, with my grandsons.
Books- One from the LJ Ross crime fiction series set in Northumberland. The genre appeals to me
- And finally, What is it with Tunnocks tea cakes?
Have you ever eaten one?
Scottishness in a bite.Love the taste.
DC interviewed by AMF. July 2018