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Liberton Kirk. Picture by John Gill
Liberton Kirk. Picture by John Gill

Faith Through Service

Friday January 12

In this month's youth column, Emily Kerrigan of Liberton Parish Church, Edinburgh, describes the rewards of Christian service.


God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. (1 Peter 4:10)

I remember the first time I was described as ‘servant-hearted’. It was not long after becoming a Christian at the age of 14, having come from a non-Christian home I was finding it hard to adapt to my new way of living – everything around me had remained the same but I was changed, and the easiest way I felt I could show this change was through serving.

Every year at Cairn Brae, a Young Life camp in Scotland, a team of teenagers pay to go and stay at camp and serve in various ways – cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, serving meals, etc. On top of this there is regular worship, prayer, and bible teaching. When I was a young teenager, I was given the opportunity to go along and be a part of this work crew and serve in my summer holidays. I loved being able to serve the Lord alongside my peers away from the distractions I had at home. I really felt like I was living out my faith and being able to do it alongside people my age while we grew in our knowledge and love of God was an experience I feel incredibly grateful for.

However, when I would come home from camp at the end of summer, return to school and start back at my routine

and ordinary life, it felt like the exciting, encouraging passion I had was still at camp and hadn’t came home with me. I felt like I didn’t know how or where to serve at home and even if I did, I no longer had my peers around me all trying to do the same thing.

Thankfully I continued to pursue ways that I could serve our local youth ministry and now at 24 years old, 10 years after making a commitment to Christ, I am the Youth and Children’s worker at Liberton Kirk and I have the  opportunity to help the teenagers in our church learn how to serve God in our local community and church.

This is the backstory to what we call “Service Week” at Liberton Kirk. For the past three years some of the teenagers in our local area who have a faith have given up a week of their summer holidays to serve their community in various ways – visiting local care homes, delivering meals to housebound people, helping locals with gardening, litter-picking our local parks, amongst other service projects. As well as meeting each day, cooking each others’ meals, taking part in bible devotions and prayer times.

We have found that through this week our teenagers have had more of a desire and confidence to get involved in church life and serve throughout the rest of the year too. We now have a monthly serving Sunday where all our high school aged members of the congregation choose different ways to help on a Sunday morning.

It is such a fun and exciting thing to see young people discover their gifts and the ways that God can use them in a safe space with their friends and youth leaders supporting them and cheering them on. It has helped our young people to grow in their faith and fellowship with one another.

We know from some of our teenagers that have since gone off to university that it has helped them also to go out into new ministries and churches to serve others. It has been such an encouragement to me, and I hope an encouragement to you too.

If you are under 30 with a Church of Scotland connection, and would be interested in telling your story in the Life and Work youth column, please email

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