The McConnell family have flitted across the Atlantic several times.
But eight years ago they made Dundee their home and the entire family of six have played a leading role in the Downfield Mains parish.
Dad Nathan may be the minister but, as he reveals, wife Courtney and their four daughters have also played a pivotal role in church life.
Brought up in a manse and having lived in both the US and UK, sisters Shanley, 26, Faith, 23, Tiarnan, 21, and Elisabet, 19, have a lifestyle some would see as unusual.
It has included being faithful members of their congregation, having regular visitors to their working home and even having Ukrainian refugees move in.
And it’s seen them move from Florida to Scotland to North Carolina and back to Florida before returning to Scotland.
But Nathan is at pains to stress they are just like everyone else.
He said: “We love Jesus, it’s just that simple.
“There are misconceptions about what being a Christian really is and we are just normal people.
“We go to church on Sundays, we serve Bible studies, we bake cookies, our children play in orchestras, they work for DC Thomson [Shanley has written for The Courier]; we have a normal life.”
The three eldest sisters are ‘mountain girls’, says Nathan, born in North Carolina, while Elisabet was born in Florida, primary school teacher Courtney’s home state.
All four have now left Dundee but remain involved with the church in their new homes, Faith as an animator in the US, Tiarnan studying musical theatre in York and Elisabeth as a student of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Shanley is a researcher with the Evangelical Alliance in London.
In church every Sunday
But before they left, they were familiar faces in Downfield Mains Church.
Nathan said: “They were there every week.
“Faith was probably my most consistent member. She would always sit in the balcony, she was the only one up in the balcony but she was always at church.
“My wife is my key support. I wouldn’t be able to do it without her. She loves God with all her heart and she loves the church family. She’s got a huge calling in her own right.”
Talented musicians, the girls played in the church’s worship groups.
Nathan said: “They’ve always been involved. In some regards it’s just been a beautiful thing because they have learned a lot about character and they’ve learned about perseverance and grace and love.
“They have a good grasp of how society works.
“We’re not just Dundonians we’re global people.”
They’ve also grown up in a busy manse, with a constant stream of visitors to what is their home but also an extension of the church.
In Florida we didn’t live in a manse but our home was always busy. Our relationship with the Lord is an everyday thing, it’s not just Sundays.”
Rev. Nathan McConnell
Nathan said: “It’s a working house but it’s also our home.”
As well as group meetings and events there are regular visits from congregation and non-congregation members, seeking support or counsel.
Nathan, originally from Iowa, said: “Even in Florida we didn’t live in a manse but our home was always busy.
“Our relationship with the Lord is an everyday thing, it’s not just Sundays.”
When war broke out in Ukraine, the family was among many across the UK to take in refugees.
Nathan said: “I helped to start churches in the Ukraine in the early 2000s which have now gone into 16 cities.
“So when the Ukrainian war broke out I was in contact translators, friends, pastors, people I’ve known for years.
“We had a mother and daughter come live with us for eight months in the manse.
“They’ve now moved into a flat just down the road.
“We also provided Christmas for those staying in hotels and we refurbished a manse in Broughty Ferry for a family to go in there.”
Smuggling Bibles to Cuba
And Nathan has been quite the role model for his daughters – having bravely smuggled Bibles into Cuba!
Religion in Cuba was driven underground when Fidel Castro took power in 1959 and although recently loosened, travel restrictions from the US remain in force.
Nathan explained: “As an American you’re not supposed to go to Cuba but there are ways!
“Living 90 miles from it in South Florida, I always wanted to go to Cuba.
“People said you shouldn’t go to Cuba while Castro’s alive, but it was great, it was wonderful.
“We encouraged churches that were there, we spoke in churches.
“There were churches meeting in car garages. Wherever they were repairing cars they would convert these.
“You would see one thing on the outside, inside totally different!”
But he adds: “It was also crazy, you were always being tailed!”
He has a similarly astonishing tale of how his family’s story and his journey as a Christian began with a chance meeting in a Miami bar in the mid-1990s.
How it started with a Jesus pendant
Nathan was grieving his uncle, who he had been caring for until he died of AIDS.
His own parents weren’t religious but he said: “I found myself a bit lonely, isolated. I didn’t have much influence church-wise but I remember getting on my knees and saying ‘God, if you’re real please show me. Even if it’s you Jesus please tell me.’
“A couple of weeks later I met a young lady in an Irish pub and I had been wearing a pendant my uncle left me with the face of Jesus on it.
“She walked up to me and saw the pendant and she said ‘You know my Jesus?’
“I said ‘That’s really personal’ and tucked it inside my shirt. But she invited me to church and I finally heard the gospel, that Jesus loves me.”
The place she took him to was so unlike what Nathan expected of a church and he was hooked.
He said: “It was fresh and new and the church was filled with young people.
“There was no fanfare, just a huge warehouse with a bunch of young people reading their bibles. I was like ‘what is this?!’ It was a whole different experience.”
That lifechanging introduction eventually led him to study a masters degree in theology at Aberdeen University, then his later return to Scotland and finally his calling to Dundee in 2015.
And he revealed: “The lady who asked me ‘Do you know my Jesus?’ is now my wife!”
As well as feeling blessed with his own family, Nathan also cherishes the part he plays in the lives of other families.
And Downfield Mains Church has a very vibrant, modern congregation from across the city and beyond, he said.
“Being part of the ministry is super-satisfying. You get to touch people in all these places and spaces, whether it’s a Christening, doing a wedding, you’re there in the life of that family.
“Our ministry is cradle to grave.
“Slowly the age brackets are coming down as we grow as a church.
“The goal is then to invest in the lives of young people.
“I saw how important that was in my own children’s lives.
“My children have excelled because they have faith and they have a moral compass, that desire to excel and grow and go from strength to strength.
“And they love people, even people who aren’t like them at all.
“It’s changed their world, and it’s changed our world.”