Duncan and Shona: 30 years at Hilton – from the Inverness Courier

by | May 9, 2024 | People | 0 comments

Here’s the piece by John about Duncan and Shona’s 30 years at Hilton Church which appeared in the Inverness Courier on 3rd May 2024.

(See here for a report of the celebration church lunch to mark the occasion.)

This year, Duncan MacPherson celebrates 30 years as minister of Hilton Parish Church in Inverness. He’s probably the longest-serving minister of any congregation in the city.

At a church lunch to mark the occasion, Elaine Watt expressed the congregation’s thanks to Duncan and his wife Shona who have given so much of themselves to the parish over the years.

I loved Elaine’s description of much of Duncan’s work as being ‘under the radar’ – when not in the public eye leading services, he has been a constant Christian presence in the Hilton community over three decades.

One of the benefits of a long ministry, he says, is that he knows so many people in Hilton, knows their parents too, and often their grandparents.  He is available to people when they need spiritual support.

The congregation grew significantly in the early years of Duncan’s ministry. There was, both in Church and community, a sense of longing for something more. ‘A real spiritual hunger’ is how he describes it. He ran numerous Alpha courses, through which many came to faith for the first time and many others saw ‘a complete renewal of their faith.’

Throughout his time at Hilton, has sought to ensure that the Church remains relevant, accessible and hospitable, a place of warm welcome where people with different ways of expressing their spirituality in worship, and different viewpoints are welcome.

And the trust he built up over the years made the Light House community facility possible, and also led to what became Hilton Family Support.

I ask Duncan if he discerns God prompting him in his work. He speaks of prayer and contemplation, and the importance to him of reflective walking, notably on the Camino pilgrim route in Spain.

He mentions his expectancy on a daily basis that God is at work in people’s lives, and his desire to be responsive. (‘Might this thought, dropping into my mind, be a  nudge from God?’) He mentions the ‘coincidences’ which so often mysteriously occur when he’s praying for a person or a situation.

At a time when the Church of Scotland no longer has a central place in Scottish society, I ask Duncan how he sees the future. He is positive,  sensing a greater vibrancy in churches of all denominations in Inverness compared with thirty years ago, and a greater spirit of co-operation between Christians.

And he repeats the old creed ‘Christ has died! Christ has risen! Christ will come again.’  His smile shows his confidence in the God behind this divine story-arc, this rainbow of assurance that despite everything, in the end all will be well.

And in the meantime, ‘under-the-radar’ Duncan moves among the people of Hilton reflecting God’s compassionate love.