An award-winning campaigner has been appointed new spiritual leader of a cluster of Aberdeenshire churches.
Rev Linda Pollock is set to take the reins of the Aberluthnott and Laurencekirk Parish Church in Marykirk, following the suspension of former leader Ronald Gall.
Mr Gall was stripped of his title as minister of the parish, which comprises Laurencekirk, Marykirk and Luthermuir churches in 2017, after stealing more than £31,000 pounds from a trust fund for pensioners to buy a car and pay off debts.
Now Ms Pollock, who originally hails from Northern Ireland, is taking on the “immense responsibility” of running the parish.
She said: “I feel a little daunted at the immense responsibility, but I’m working alongside good people, who have worked very hard to maintain a spiritual presence these past few years without a minister leading them.
“I also feel very privileged, because getting to be alongside people at the most vulnerable and the most joyous times in their lives is a priceless gift.
“Trust is a huge responsibility and I intend to live up to that trust to the very best of my ability.”
Reverend lauded for campaigning work
Ms Pollock moved to the north-east after spending seven years as the minister of Possilpark Parish Church in Glasgow.
In 2019, she successfully led a campaign to prevent an asylum-seeking family from being forced to leave their home in Glasgow and deported to Pakistan.
Ms Pollock was then awarded Campaigner of the Year at the Herald Society Awards in recognition of her work, after teenage brothers Somer and Areeb Umeed Bakhsh and their parents were granted residential status in the UK until February 2020.
“It would have been impossible for me to leave knowing that I hadn’t completed that part of my mission”, she said.
“I wouldn’t walk away lightly from a parish after being there seven years with people I had come to love very much, but I knew it was time for someone else to walk with the people of Possilpark.
“I love this new rural ministry and I am looking forward to lockdown being lifted, so that I can get involved in as many aspects of life here as possible.
“Going forward, my hope is to simply walk with people as they go about living their lives, to offer support and kindness and, if invited to, I will show them where and how I encounter God.”
Alison Duncan, session clerk at Laurencekirk Church, said people are delighted that Ms Pollock has joined them.
“It is fantastic news and we are so pleased that we have a full-time minister working with us after so many years.
“Linda is very approachable, friendly and down to earth and we are looking forward to, when restrictions allow, bolstering our presence in the community and being more visible.”