13th June 2024 marks a significant date for both Patricia Jardine and me as it was the day we were ordained as Elders here in our beloved Maxwelltown West Church.  It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since that  date and what an action-packed 20 years it has been!

Some may recall an article in Contact in September 2010 entitled ‘A Tale of Two Elders’, detailing the journey we had been on since our ordination which culminated in us heading up the team that led to a successful Stewardship Programme.  Since then, the congregation has had to deal with the tragedy of losing our dearly loved minister Gordon Savage and the difficulties that ensued as we searched for a new Minister to lead us.  In this period of vacancy, the congregation was indeed blessed to have the Revs. Sandy Geddes, Colin Sutherland and Liz Mack lead us in worship.  As diligent Elders, our District visits became even more important as we endeavoured to keep the    congregation up to date with developments.  We thought our prayers had been answered when we were blessed by Rev Dave Sutherland answering the Call to be our new Minister in October 2014.

However, this tenure sadly only lasted a few years as Dave answered the Call to another Ministry in Ayrshire and the search had to begin all over again.  Following Dave’s departure, worship was led by the late Rev Sally Russell and our very dear friend of Max West, David Matheson.  The congregation also had to embark on a ‘period of healing and reconciliation’ run by the Church of Scotland.  This was because of the difficulties that arose during the Rev Dave Sutherland’s time with us.  I think I can say that this was a challenging time for us as Elders but we never gave up our belief that God would guide and help us through it.
After this period, we were relieved to be given permission to go forward in our search for a Minister and form a new Nominating Committee.  I was more than pleased to be on that Committee which was ably led by David Johnson.

Just before we were time barred in our search for a Minister, the Nominating Committee received an application from a Rev Johannes Wildner!  That this was done during the Covid pandemic was indeed a testing time and involved meeting our applicant wearing facemasks and keeping a social distance!  However, the process turned out to be most successful as Rev Johannes accepted the Call to become our Minister and was duly inaugurated on 21st October 2021. The Lord had indeed answered our prayers again.

So here we are!  Keeping up our duties as Elders and sharing our thoughts and ideas as we continue to pound the streets of Dumfries!  Yes, we are still running – albeit maybe not at the same pace as 20 years ago!  Nonetheless, our enthusiasm for the Eldership is as keen as it was in the beginning and we thank the Lord for that and look forward to what the next 20 years may bring in the life of Maxwelltown West Church.
Val Coltart (with Patricia’s permission)