A Day In The Life Of...

Rev Fiona Mathieson, 53, from Glas­gow, loves serv­ing her Ed­in­burgh parish af­ter 28 years in the min­istry.

No. 1 Magazine - - NEWS - Fiona is Min­is­ter at Car­rick Knowe Church, ckchurch.org.uk If you are in­ter­ested in find­ing out more about Min­istry in the Church of Scot­land then you can visit: to­mor­rows­call­ing.org

It is my job to serve all the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, whether they are mem­bers of the church or not, and lead our ac­tive busy con­gre­ga­tion. The role is very var­ied.

What I love most are the peo­ple, and be­ing at the heart of the com­mu­nity.

There is some­thing unique about jour­ney­ing with folk at the most sen­si­tive times of their lives. Some­times peo­ple are in deep de­spair; at other times they are cel­e­brat­ing fan­tas­tic life-en­hanc­ing mo­ments. To be al­lowed to be at the cen­tre of that and to hope­fully be a chan­nel through which God can connect with peo­ple is hum­bling and awe in­spir­ing.

I had al­ways been very in­volved in the church I grew up in (Kingspark in Glas­gow).

I trained as a pri­mary teacher, but as time went by I be­gan to lean to­wards be­ing a min­is­ter. Tak­ing that first step, at 21, took me to places and gave me op­por­tu­ni­ties which I could never have dreamt of at the time.

It’s not a job, it’s a way of life and it’s be­come who I am – in fact I have been do­ing this 32 years!

I have had three ‘jobs’ over the years: Church of Scot­land’s National Youth Ad­viser and later Chap­lain to the Univer­sity of Glas­gow which made me the first fe­male and youngest chap­lain of one of the ‘an­cient’ uni­ver­si­ties was amaz­ing. This was one of my ca­reer highlights. To move into a parish I had to ap­ply and a group elected by the con­gre­ga­tion in­ter­viewed me. I then had to lead a ser­vice for the whole con­gre­ga­tion and they voted as to whether they felt I was the ‘right min­is­ter’ for them. Thank­fully, over 95 per cent voted yes!

Some days are long as there can be un­ex­pected things to deal with along­side what is al­ready planned.

Most morn­ings I get up at 8-8.30am and I don’t need to leave the house so once I’ve hit the shower, sorted my hair, make-up and a suit­able out­fit for the day ahead, I walk down the stairs into my study and I am at work. I use morn­ings for prepa­ra­tion, as the af­ter­noons are bet­ter for knock­ing on peo­ple’s doors. So I will be in my study at the manse writ­ing ser­mons and prayers for the Sun­day ser­vice, ar­rang­ing meet­ings and an­swer­ing e-mails and calls.

Af­ter­noons are for vis­it­ing peo­ple in their homes or in hos­pi­tal or care homes.

Over the years I have been with peo­ple when loved ones have taken their own lives, or been mur­dered, or when they have been given a life-chang­ing piece of news or di­ag­no­sis. Of­ten the chal­lenge is know­ing when to say noth­ing and sim­ply be with them.

Even­ing meet­ings are to en­sure that the con­gre­ga­tion is gov­erned prop­erly.

If peo­ple are work­ing, then evenings are when they are free to come to the Manse and have a chat about what­ever they are deal­ing with. In an ideal world I am home with my hus­band An­gus in time for what­ever is on the TV at 9pm as I am a bit of a TV ad­dict!

In­ter­est­ingly peo­ple al­ways think De­cem­ber is the busiest time for me when, in fact, it’s Oc­to­ber.

That’s when we are busy pre­par­ing and putting the Christ­mas ser­vices to­gether so that peo­ple can be given read­ings and parts in good time. In De­cem­ber there are ex­tra ser­vices and par­ties to at­tend. But of­ten Christ­mas is a dif­fi­cult time for peo­ple. Pop­u­lar cul­ture tells us ‘it’s the sea­son to be jolly’, but if you’re not in that place it is just plain mis­er­able. At Christ­mas I get more in­volved if I can. Sup­port­ing be­reaved fam­i­lies is of­ten chal­leng­ing, but it’s par­tic­u­larly poignant at Christ­mas.

I have re­alised that you have to leave all the emo­tions you have ab­sorbed at the door.

You need to have some time for your­self, friends and fam­ily. It is still not easy but I can do it. I en­joy tele­vi­sion, cook­ing, read­ing and time with friends. We have a sea­son ticket for the Lyceum which means that An­gus and I go out for a meal and to the the­atre with our friends.

My ad­vice is: don’t think that the path you be­gin on has to be the one you con­tinue on.

Al­ways look for new chal­lenges, be brave and give what might seem im­pos­si­ble a go. Never think you know it all be­cause that is when the most un­ex­pected thing will hit you hard and leave you strug­gling. And al­ways treat peo­ple with dig­nity and re­spect. Most peo­ple are in­ter­ested in what I do, a few are hos­tile, but I can usu­ally win them round by just be­ing me.

The thing I love most about Scot­land is... Its peo­ple – our hon­est open­ness is what makes our coun­try. My favourite staycation des­ti­na­tion is... Iona. Its peace and spir­i­tu­al­ity are in­cred­i­ble. I would take vis­i­tors in Scot­land to... The Royal Mile and then over to Fife. My favourite city is... Ed­in­burgh, hav­ing spent most of my adult life here.

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