Kirk opens a new branch as Edinburgh minister plans to hold forest church sessions

Fraser Edwards and his wife FionaFraser Edwards and his wife Fiona
Fraser Edwards and his wife Fiona
An Edinburgh man set to become the Church of Scotland’s newest minister said he hopes to take message from the pulpit to the great outdoors.

Fraser Edwards, who grew up in Kingsknowe, is being ordained and inducted into Innerleithen Traquair and Walkerburn Parish Church in the Scottish Borders this evening.

The 42-year-old former IT specialist has joined a group called Forest Church to look at plans to hold sermons in nature, drawing on older church traditions that saw breakaway groups worship outdoors.

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One famous example is John Knox pulpit in Glen Dale which was used as a secret meeting place by Presbyterian Covenanters who held church services there in the late 17th century. It’s named after the 16c Minister and leader of the reformation, who was born in Haddington.

Mr Edwards said: “I’m really excited about my ordination and it is a privilege to have been called to be ITW’s minister.

“The parish is in an area of such natural beauty that I hope, in time, to explore a fresh expression of church to take place outdoors.

“I’ve become part of a small group exploring ‘Forest Church’ and I’m keen to see ways that people can connect the wonder and beauty that we all see in creation with the God who made it all and who cares for us.”

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Although buildings are temporarily closed to public worship due to the pandemic, Mr Edwards said the congregation has embraced technology to ensure that the church is most definitely open.

“A background in IT and a degree in theology seem to be a fairly good combination of skills in the current life of online church,” he added.

“We have started online services followed by a post-church Zoom coffee time.”

Mr Edwards, a University of Edinburgh graduate, was due to be ordained and inducted on the 28th of January so has been serving in his new role unofficially for several weeks.

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Currently living in Edinburgh with his family primary school teacher wife, Fiona, their two children, Anna, 13 and Matthew, 7, they plan to move to the Scottish Borders as soon as possible.

The former Firrhill High School pupil attended Palmerston Place Church for 15 years and was mentored by the minister, Very Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 2019-20.

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