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A New Pastor

Avoch Congregational Church has been through a remarkable revitalisation since 2011, with numbers growing substantially to a consistent core. But when the church called a new pastor last year they needed to make sure they were legally compliant. Elder Les Smith says this is where FIEC Practical Services came in.

A New Pastor primary image

It was a shock when our Pastor announced his resignation.

Not because there was anything wrong with his ministry – quite the opposite – but it meant we had to search in earnest for a new man to lead the church here.

So it was that John Marker finished at Avoch in December 2015 with one of his final duties being to baptise someone who had come to faith earlier in the year. His ministry was a fruitful one and we wished him well for the future – in fact some of us had the privilege of travelling to his induction as the leader of Thurso and North Coast Free Church when he took up his new charge with the Free Church of Scotland.

By the time John left we had already been in touch with FIEC’s Scotland Director Andy Hunter who assisted us in finding a new pastor. Andy put us in touch with the person God would soon bring to Avoch: Mark Hughes. He was assistant Pastor at Grove Hill Evangelical Church in London and he was subsequently appointed as John’s successor.

Mark & Sarah Hughes

Calling the Pastor

Our first meeting with our new Pastor and his family took place in January last year when they travelled to Avoch for our worship service. He led the service, preached, and afterwards met the members of the congregation.

After this initial visit the members agreed to invite the family for a longer visit. This took place over four days in March and he was involved in leading all our regular activities including speaking to the boys and girls in our children’s Jaffa Club.

The process to appoint him as Pastor was completed later in March when a meeting of the members voted unanimously to invite him to be the new man to serve with us at Avoch Congregational Church.

We gave God thanks for His guidance and His providence in answering our prayers so speedily.

Legal Compliance

After we had formally offered Mark the role of Pastor, we had to arrange for a contractual agreement to be put in place and a couple of months into this process we hit some snags.

Most of these were around the compliance with existing Employment Law and that point I contacted the experts at FIEC Practical Services to make sure we got this right.

I was put in touch with Nick Conway who can advise churches on Human Resources matters. I had a conversation with Nick and he took the time to read the content of our agreement and suggested a few minor alterations which would ensure compliance with current Employment Law.

The whole process was speedy and I was very grateful to have received the assistance of a qualified HR expert.

Subsequently, at the next church meeting, the members approved the ‘Agreement’ when it was explained to them that the content had been approved as suitable for the intended purpose, i.e. an agreement between a Bible-believing Congregation and their Pastor.

Mark has been with us since August 2016 and the congregation are convinced that the decision to invite him to be our Pastor has been the correct one.

I am indebted to Practical Services for the assistance given to me, and for the manner in which those with whom I had contact dealt with me. The cost of Nick’s services was eminently reasonable and indeed was negligible considering the importance of getting this documentation correct.

I’d have no hesitation in recommending any church with a problem, or just in need of some advice, to contact FIEC Practical Services.

Les Smith

Les is an elder at Avoch Congregational Church.