Rev Ray Gaston, Locum Minister
On Sunday 30th June 2019 the rev Ray Gaston retired. He will be sorely missed by all in Clackmannan and we wish both him and his wife Evelyn a happy and fulfilling retirement.
Here is a tribute to Ray from Jim Millar our Session Clerk.
THANK YOU TO REV RAY GASTON
As you will probably know Rev Ray Gaston is to leave us at the end of June to take up full-time retirement (?). I have found it a pleasure to have met and worked with him during these last two and three quarter years. In May last year, I was asked to address the Presbytery and after complaining about how vacancies were handled in the Church of Scotland and then extolling the virtues of the congregation in Clackmannan Parish Church I said the following:
"Striking a further positive note - my Mother used to say that if God closes a door then he will always open a window. In October 2016 God really did open a window and let a Ray of sunshine into Clackmannan Parish Church - pardon the pun. The Rev Ray Gaston in that October come to us as Locum Minister and members of the congregation remarked to me that God has sent this man to us - and I firmly believe that statement. I cannot praise him enough. He has demonstrated true leadership and is an example to all of us. The congregation has responded to him really positively and his support for several existing areas of work has been much appreciated by those taking part. He has introduced other new initiatives to which people have responded. After being with us for a short time Ray made an assessment of the congregation at Clackmannan and if I may quote him on
what he feels about the congregation at Clackmannan - "This congregation is not in an unsatisfactory condition - it is in an unsatisfactory situation".
We will sorely miss Ray but understand that it is time to call a halt to his long and rewarding ministry and service. We would all, I am sure, wish him and Evelyn a long and happy retirement together. God Bless you and yours, Ray, and thanks for all you have done for us in Clackmannan.
Ray's perspective on his time with the Clackmannan congregation.
"Looking Back - and Looking Forward"
We read: Acts 28: 15
"When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was greatly encouraged."
I am no prisoner, and this is no "swan song", but rather a thanks to God for 56 years of ministry and the support and encouragement of the congregation here at Clackmannan over the last 2 years and nine months. lf there are stories with happy endings, this has to be mine!
From my first meeting with your Clerk and his Deputy, it was clear to me that here was a meeting of hearts and minds that was to characterise all that we have shared - and achieved together - over this period.
No minister could have asked for more than the warmth, welcome and encouragement you have given. I thank God for you all.
You are a congregation that is outward-looking to its community through an active Social Care Group, a Community Coffee Morning and a smokey- faced, burger-cooking Clerk (and cheery Team) dishing up their weekly fare at "Bargains and Bites"! Added to these, there is a healthy representation of members on so many community groups and local efforts.
What has been of great joy to me has been the way that you have helped me fulfil the remit with which I came: to bring the congregation together and prepare you for change.
Worship especially, Sunday by Sunday, has been a joy and a privilege to lead. There is so much genuine affection to attract any newcomer to the weekly meeting-point on Sundays at 11 am.
Key to this - the work of Meg at the organ and the Choir leading the praise. Also, with the co-operation, support and involvement of our "interim" Rev Jim McNeil, a Worship Group has been formed, trained and is now a regular weekly feature in Sunday Worship. More will be asked of them in the months ahead but with the progress they have made and the talents displayed, I know they will rise to the challenge.
Many, many more come to mind - office-bearers, Session and Board, youth leaders, helpers and a host of members - I must include in a global "Thank you".
Nevertheless, a part-time post must always leave in its wake regrets for tasks identified that remain unfulfilled - gaps in the armour that must await another minister and another time. I only wish I had come to you a lot younger!
However, my satisfaction is in the fact that I see clearly in Clackmannan a congregation well and ably equipped and prepared to face and cope with the changes afoot in the Church and the parish grouping envisaged for you. My greatest joy is that of seeing you emerge as a "lay-led" family of God's folk, well aware of the current situation we all face and with the necessary commitment, gifts and willingness to see the Master's cause strengthened and advanced in congregation, parish and district.
As your quest continues for new leadership, may God bless and direct you. I shall follow with close interest.
Thank you for your friendship and love. I shall miss you.
Rev Ray Gaston
(For our trust and meditation: Hymn 237)
Some lighter moments from Ray's Retirement.
Ray with painting of Clackmannan Church gifted anonymously
Ray with Rev Jim McNeil, Interim Moderator
Ray with Rev Jim McNeil, Interim Moderator and Jim Millar, Session Clerk
Ray and wife Evelyn and Rev Jim McNeil, Interim Moderator and Jim Millar, Session Clerk
Ray and Wife Evelyn with bouquet of flowers arranged by Elspeth Cuthbertson
Ray with one of our younger generation
Rev Jim McNeil BSc BD, Interim Moderator
Minister to Alva for over 20 years (before that I was minister of Castlemilk West)
I am now the Clackmannan Interim Moderator which means that I deal with the ad-min and help the leadership of the church during the vacancy.
Married for 26 years to Roseanna (though she probably feels it is a lot longer).
My intention is to be as open as I can be about the process of vacancy and, with Ray as Locum, our hope would be to try to help Clackmannan on their journey of faith for the short time that we are in charge.