HE’S partial to cask ale and believes it’s good to party – but swears he won’t let that get in the way of serving his Edinburgh parishioners as Scotland’s youngest church minister.
At the age of 25, Reverend Michael Mair said he was “equally excited and terrified” about taking the reins at St David’s Broomhouse after he was ordained as the Church of Scotland’s freshest recruit.
Though well aware of the current divide over issues such as same-sex marriage, Rev Mair, who was ordained last night, said he would seek to bring the common touch to leadership of the close-knit west Edinburgh parish.
He said: “I think my work will be about breaking down stereotypes and saying that the image people have had of the church might not be all that true, so why not come along and find out for yourself?
“I would start by saying that we in the church have been guilty of spending too much time on the issue of same-sex marriage – instead of telling people they’re loved, we’ve spoken of what they can and can’t do in their own personal lives.”
Born in Fairmilehead, Rev Mair grew up in the affluent south Glasgow suburb of Newton Mearns, where he was taken to church “now and again” by his parents.
Religion was not a major factor in day-to-day life before his teenage years – instead his dreams were of becoming an actor or policeman. The turning point came at the age of 13 when, as a pupil at Mearns Castle High he met a group of enthusiastic Americans who had come to the local parish to talk about their missionary work.
Rev Mair said: “They were doing a lot of youth work and we had this conversation about what being a Christian is – what it is and what it isn’t.
“It was like a mist had been lifted – it was then that I became a Christian. I started going to church much more regularly.”
Urged by his parents to gain experience in another line of work before committing to the Church, Rev Mair remained faithful to his chosen path. But he didn’t let that get in the way of a good drink while a divinity student at Edinburgh University’s New College, where he met his wife, Laura, also 25.
“While I was occasionally going to parties and getting into a state, I never thought that was shameful and shocking – everyone does it,” he said.
“There’s a clear mandate in scripture that partying is good and it’s to enjoy time with friends. There is a limit but once you step over the line, it’s not about where you are but how you respond.”
Church of Scotland leaders have welcomed the ordination and said it would provide a crucial boost to parishioners at St David’s. Rev Dr George Whyte, Presbytery Clerk of Edinburgh, said: “Michael has a lot of ideas and we are sure he is going to have an exciting ministry ahead of him and wish him the very best in his new parish.”
‘I like a pint of cask ale’
WHAT’S your favourite pub or bar?
I’ve just found this place called Jake’s Place opposite Waverley Station – it has a huge variety of beers.
It’s a great place to sit and meet some friends for a drink.
What’s your favourite tipple?
I like a pint of cask ale, though I think my last drink might have been a Leffe Blonde.
What’s your favourite film?
It’s hard to say. At the moment, I’m loving The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
But I like any of the adrenalin-pumping blockbusters that are coming out.
What’s your favourite band?
I love Mumford and Sons. I recently saw them when they were at the Caird Hall in Dundee.
What’s your favourite football team?
While I’m living here I have to be a Hearts fan – I’m on the right side of the city.