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Youth Column: No Man Is an Island

Youth Column: No Man Is an Island

Tuesday April 2

Connor Macfadyen describes his faith journey


Faith, it’s a funny thing.

My mum is Roman Catholic and my dad was the Kirk and so I attended both, - South Leith with my grandparents and the chapel in Falkirk. But it never felt right. Nowhere felt like I belonged and I had nowhere to discover or teach me about this minefield. I felt lost. I attended the groups at my school, but it still wasn’t enough.

Then God sent me two angels in the forms of Mrs Dodds and Mr Hogg (the minister). On a Wednesday when they came I would sit waiting for them both, I would help set up and then we would begin. Then one day, everything changed. As Mrs Dodds was leaving she said, ‘you should come to church’ and that got me thinking, maybe I should. So after some discerning and persuading, at 10 years old I stepped out the house and with some helpful guidance, I made it to the church.

Tranent Parish Church, my little slice of heaven tucked away in East Lothian. I was absolutely terrified, I knew nobody and I really knew nothing. Who knew seat politics was a thing (don’t sit in the seat of a lady who had been a member for about  60 years), I had no recollection of the Lord’s Prayer (I would go home and recite it 100 times until I remembered it word for word). But I sat down and there I have stayed and every time I walk down its path I smile, because that day changed my life.

I had found my family and life was good. But I still felt alone and so on my island I stayed. Upon reflection I think the problem was there was nobody my age. For so long I was the eldest of the young people, there was a good group of us which was great and I attended the Sunday school for a year but there was still something missing.

Then the horror of high school began and folks, faith isn’t cool. And so the first time I said I couldn’t do something because of the church, the bullying and other hideous things teenagers do started and it carried on until the day I left.  During those years a lot changed: I was baptised, I joined the church, we had a new minister and I dived deeper into my faith. So many times though I thought about giving it all up - was the sacrifice of friends and family worth it? But every time, God would grab me by my collar and drag me back, and for that I will always be grateful. 

A while later, an email came that blew everything wide open: the invitation to the National Youth Assembly. By this time I was 20 and was struggling with my faith, but I felt God pulling me again and so I went. I had no idea what to expect, until I stepped off that bus and found it. These were the inhabitants of my island I had been hunting for. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Without this journey I would never have been to the General Assembly. I would never have felt brave enough to explore my call to ministry and study. I would never have become an elder who now sits on Presbytery. My island has dissolved and God is good.

So my message in all that is this: speak to your young people, engage and encourage them to get involved; they are yearning for it but they are waiting for you to make the first move. Let’s aim to get our young people off their islands so that we can share the Kingdom together.


If you are under 30 and involved in the Church of Scotland, and would be interested in writing for this column, or if you would like to suggest someone, please email us on magazine@lifeandwork.org


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