Marjorie Paton, a retired teacher from Edinburgh, has been appointed as the new national convener of the Church of Scotland Guild.
Marjorie, 69, was born and raised in the Capital. “I grew up on the south side of the city and went to James Gillespie’s High School,” she said. “That was when it was an all girls school. My father worked in insurance and my mother didn’t work.”
Marjorie described teaching as “something I’d always wanted to do, since childhood. It was an easy profession to get into at that time. I did my degree at Edinburgh University and then did a year’s teacher training at Moray House. I started off teaching at secondary level. I taught English, Scottish history and religious studies. Teaching is always a challenge, I changed tack and taught primary school but it wasn’t any easier. It was much more interesting though, you can teach a far wider range of subjects.”
Marjorie went on to teach special needs pupils in Fife, an experience she said was “unique”. She said: “You really help children that need a lot of help and most of them are responsive to it. It’s great to see special needs children progress, even if it’s slowly.”
The Guild, which is a charitable arm of the church, encourages worship, prayer and action as methods of helping communities. The role of national convener is a year-long role, beginning in May.
Marjorie said it was a “great honour and privilege” to be asked to lead the Guild for the year. She has been a member of the Guild since not long after her marriage, 43 years ago, to minister Iain Paton. The couple have served parishes across the country and overseas. They have two children and three grandchildren.
She said: “It’s raising the profile of the Guild, speaking to a lot of groups, and planning what we will do as a guild.”
Her aims are to raise awareness of the Guild and increase membership.
“The Guild is one of the biggest organisations in Scotland. We have 27,000 members, and although we originally were an organisation of women, around 300 of our members now are men. It does a tremendous amount of good in the church and for the church. Every three years the Guild chooses six projects to support, and in the last three years these projects raised a quarter of a million pounds. We help all sorts of communities, from African refugees in Malta to dementia patients.
“We’re helping a lot of people who are living on the edge. Besides raising money, the Guild are praying for them.”
The highlight of her time with the Guild was a conference she attended in Ghana. “It was a conference about women, run by women. You can’t help but think of the conditions some of the women in Ghana live in and what they experience, and yet their faith shines through it all.”