At the end of August Catriona Gorton left her role as Minister of Hillhead Baptist Church to begin a new ministry down south. This is a bivocational role in which she serves half time as Tutor for Ministerial Formation at Northern Baptist College and half time as Transitional Minister at Union Street Baptist Church in Crewe. We asked Catriona to reflect on her years in Scotland…
‘Being the first accredited, ordained women in sole charge of a Baptist Church in Scotland makes me part of official Baptist history – a strange and often bewildering reality, and one that has brought a significant weight of responsibility: whatever I did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, would have ripple effects impacting other women and other churches long into the future.
Serving Hillhead has been a joy and a privilege, and we have journeyed together through some significant challenges and changes, always doing our very best to remain true to our calling to serve Jesus in the vibrant diversity of Glasgow’s West End. Whilst day-to-day, the immensity of the responsibility has not been overbearing, it would be dishonest not to mention that at times, and especially in wider Baptist life, it has been a very lonely and isolating place to be.
In just a few words, it’s not possible to capture all that has been good about my time in Scotland, but some of the highlights, beyond the local church, have been… Mentoring a number of women Pre-accredited Ministers, being a placement supervisor for students from the Scottish Baptist College, serving on the Board of Ministry, and representing the BUS at the Nations’ Service for CoP26 in Glasgow.
I recognise and accept that there are those who, having searched the scriptures and examined their own hearts, are unable to accept that women may serve as ordained ministers. Mostly, I have found ministerial colleagues who held such a view to be gracious and supportive. However, it would be disingenuous not to mention that there have been times when I have been ‘blanked’ or worse by those who could not recognise my ministry as valid. Learning to disagree well, with Christlike kindness, is something that I, for one, continue to work on.
In 2009, I was the only woman in sole charge of a Scottish Baptist Church; following my departure in 2023 there are four others in post, and that is a source of great joy. As God calls me onward, to a trans-local bi-vocational pattern of ministry in the north of England, I carry in my heart fond memories of the BUS and all I learned whilst serving in Scotland. May God bless you with faith, hope, and love as you continue to serve this nation as followers of Jesus Christ.’