Globe-trotting pastor’s Campbeltown induction

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Words and photographs Hannah O’Hanlon

The promise of Kintyre’s palm trees and long sandy beaches was enough to tempt the assistant pastor of a Spanish church to move to Campbeltown.

Mark Jasper met Ken and Mary Watson, two members of Campbeltown Community Church (CCC), which belongs to the Baptist Union of Scotland, while he was assistant pastor at Santa Ponsa Community Church in Mallorca.

The Englishman was keen to return home to the UK with his wife Lizzie and eight-year-old daughter Hannah Molly, and asked Mr and Mrs Watson three questions about the CCC’s vacant pastoral position: if the new pastor had to be Scottish, a man, and a Baptist.

At Reverend Jasper’s induction to the church in Campbeltown Town Hall on Saturday afternoon, exactly one year to the day since their meeting, Mr Watson recanted the story and revealed that the answer to all three questions was ‘no’.

Mr Watson added: ‘God was in it all the way through. God does not do coincidences.’

Members of the church’s congregation, as well as representatives from all of Campbeltown’s other Christian churches, were welcomed to the event by leadership team member Elizabeth Irwin, who said: ‘All the churches here support each other and it is lovely to see friends here today.’

Mrs Irwin said that the church had been well served by lay preachers over the last year since previous pastor Chris Holden left.

The opening prayer was read by the church’s secretary, Emily Walker, and Terrence Glenn, a member of the church, read Romans 1:1-7.

Reverend Martin Hodson, the Baptist Union of Scotland’s ministry development coordinator, gave a sermon and carried out the induction.

Rev Hodson, who said that CCC is one of the 162 Baptist churches across the country, said: ‘It’s a pleasure to be here today to be part of this special day. It matters in our whole network of churches, it matters to us as a whole family of churches.’

Addressing Rev Jasper, he added: ‘Mark, your first loyalty is to Jesus. You are here as a member of this church to lead them and build them up.’

Speaking to the congregation, Rev Hodson said: ‘You will find that he is different from your previous pastor and brings new ideas, and this is a great thing. This is one of the benefits of bringing in an experienced pastor.

‘There may be disagreements, there may be tension, but remember your loyalty is serving Christ.’

He continued: ‘Mark is called to be minister of CCC and we are marking that today. May the bond between minister and church be sealed today.’

Members of the church and representatives from other churches laid hands on Rev Jasper as he knelt on the floor, officially appointing him as pastor.

Afterwards, messages of congratulations were offered to Rev Jasper and his family, from Hamil Irwin on behalf of church’s trustees, and from Canon Keith Pagan on behalf of the area’s other Christian churches.

A special video message from Pastor Rafael Manzanares, the pastor at Rev Jasper’s previous church, was projected onto a large, white screen.

Pastor Manzanares said: ‘It is a loss for us but definitely a gain for you. I cannot think of a better family to grow with and get to know than the Jaspers.’

Rev Jasper said: ‘Thank you to everyone here for today. This is only one part of a very warm welcome.’

He said that the family had been looking for a church to which to move and believed that God would send someone to call them.

On meeting Mr and Mrs Watson, he added: ‘I believe that the lord had his hand on that.’

He continued: ‘We are not God’s gift to Campbeltown. We are sinners and we will let you down. The reason for our existence is to bring glory to Jesus Christ.’

Hymns were sung throughout the service, including And Can It Be, The Church’s One Foundation, Amazing Grace and In Christ Alone, supported by Mrs Walker on guitar and vocals, and Anne Norrie on the keyboard.

There was a reception, with tea, coffee, cakes and sandwiches, after the service.

Campbeltown Community Church’s new pastor, Mark Jasper, with his wife, Lizzie, and daughter, Hannah Molly. 50_c15induction01

Reverend Martin Hodson from the Baptist Union of Scotland. 50_c15induction02

Members of the congregation and other churches lay hands on Rev Jasper. 50_c15induction03

Campbeltown Town Hall was packed for Rev Jasper’s induction. 50_c15induction04

Rev Jasper addresses the congregation after being ordained as pastor. 50_c15induction05