Fond farewell to free church minister

Rodger and Joan Crooks following last Sunday's service and presentation.
Rodger and Joan Crooks following last Sunday's service and presentation.

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Parishioners have said a fond farewell to Reverend Dr Rodger Crooks after his final service at Campbeltown Free Church.

After three-and-a-half years as the church’s minister, Rodger is retiring. He and his wife Joan are moving, but thankfully not far, as Rodger is taking on the role, for the next two years, of resident supply minister for the Free Church of Scotland congregations in Lochgilphead, to where the couple is moving, and Tarbert.

It seems that Argyll has found a place in the hearts of Rodger and Joan, who came to Campbeltown in 2017 after Rodger served as minister in Northern Ireland for more than 36 years.

Despite the Covid-19 restrictions, 36 of a congregation attended Rodger’s final service in Campbeltown last Sunday and, afterwards, they were able to present the couple with a bouquet of flowers and a specially commissioned painting of Campbeltown by the Scottish landscape artist Jane MacRae.

Rodger and Joan Crooks following last Sunday's service and presentation.
Rodger and Joan Crooks following last Sunday’s service and presentation.

In making the presentation, church elder Graham Moller began by quoting from Psalm 90, which says: ‘We spend our years as a tale that is told.’

He added: ‘I can’t believe it was just three-and-a-half years ago that I stood here welcoming Rodger and Joan to this church. Time flies – so it is so important that any who are unsaved put their trust in Christ now because time goes just like that.

‘On behalf of the congregation, we would like you to accept these tokens of our appreciation for your ministry with us. Thank you for your zeal in spreading the good news of the gospel in the peninsula and for your friendship, fellowship and hospitality – for your patience, prayerfulness and concern for all you came across. And we must thank you Joan – for your excellent baking!

‘You will both be a hard act to follow; we will all miss you. But we are glad that you won’t be too far away in Lochgilphead and we trust that the Lord will bless your ministry there and in Tarbert and open many doors of opportunity to spread the Word.’

In thanking the congregation, Rodger said that when he and Joan first visited, exactly five years ago, the weather was beautiful, the scenery was gorgeous and they fell in love with the place. And when, through the congregation’s invitation, God opened the door, they were delighted to come to Campbeltown.

Psalms Alive will be held at Campbeltown Free Church.
Reverend Dr Rodger Crooks has been the full-time minister at Campbeltown Free Church for the last three-and-a-half years.

He said that their time here had helped to consolidate the work. Being involved in ministry was like a relay race – you have to play your part and then hand on the baton to someone else. They had run their race and now it was time to hand over. They had very much enjoyed their time and were thankful to God to have been part of the work here.

Joan also expressed her thanks to the congregation who had made them feel so much at home; they have become like family to the couple.

The congregation is in good heart and possibly stronger than it has been for more than 30 years. It has now been promised permission to get a minister for a minimum of five years and it is hoped that a new minister will be settled before too long.