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Grant Henderson (left)
Grant Henderson (left)

'Who Is God For Me?

Monday April 8

In this month's youth column, new elder Grant Henderson shares  his journey in faith.


On Sunday January 7, alongside fellow ‘youthful’ member Andreas Morrison, I (pictured left) was ordained as an elder in St Andrew’s West Parish Church in the city centre of Glasgow.

As part of the service, our minister, the Rev Dr Kleber Machado, invited us both to reflect on our journeys to that point, and share a selection of our experiences with our family and friends present.

Despite being born and brought up in the north west of England, the Kirk has always been close to my family’s heart. St Andrew’s Church of Scotland in Liverpool was a spiritual ‘home away from home’ for my family, just as for many generations of Scots south of the border.

With thanks to my encouraging family, and in particular my parents-cum-Sunday School teacherscum-elders, I am very fortunate, and grateful, that my upbringing was rooted in faith, despite the very real challenges in sustaining a Kirk in England. At one level, I followed what is probably a familiar path for many: I grew up in a family rooted in fellowship and love and, over time, developed a personal relationship with God, before making a declaration of my faith through Church membership aged 16. However, looking back, at another level, God was consistently providing crucial formative experiences, developing and deepening my faith.

I will be forever grateful to the National Children’s Assemblies, a real root of my personal faith. They made me realise that Church was ‘more’ than just a Sunday morning, and provided many transformative experiences, particularly regarding the power of ‘place’ (Iona), and of music (Fischy Music), in worship.

For several years after those days, I helped run Frontier Camps, a summer camp telling Jesus’ story to young people whilst providing them with a great outdoors holiday. This very direct experience of ‘living out’ your faith, and of ecumenism in practice, still sticks with me.

So too, do my more recent experiences, having moved to Glasgow for university. Attending and leading groups at the National Youth Assembly, and as a Youth Representative at the General Assembly, helped me grapple with big questions around having a 21st century faith in a largely secular society.

Despite the Youth Assembly being no more, I enjoy the continuing fellowship of CoSY (Church of Scotland Youth) Glasgow which continues to sustain and deepen my faith along with the community at St Andrew’s West. I’m lucky to live in a city that I love, and I am grateful that God led me to it. My reflections draw me to Ecclesiastes 3, and the idea that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I see this played out in my life, with God placing the next step of the journey exactly where and when I needed it, even if I wasn’t looking.

So, who is God for me?

I see Him very much as a guide in my life: I find Him in nature, in prayer, in music, in worship, and in quiet reflection. Crucially, He is someone who always has that next step waiting. Andreas and I took the latest step together on January 7. I am nervously excited for this next ‘season’, and for the places God, through this role, will take me.


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