Martin Ritchie MA, BD, PhD

Dr Martin Ritchie has been ordained and inducted into the charge of Greenbank Church.

Martin has prepared this profile so you can know a bit more about him.

“I was born in Edinburgh in 1972, to a family with roots in the north east of Scotland. My dad’s career in the Bank of Scotland took the family all over the country, from North Berwick to Dingwall. After schooling in Kirkcaldy and Dingwall, I first studied at the University of Edinburgh, graduating with an MA in Scottish Historical Studies and Scottish Literature in 1994. I then worked for ten years in performing arts management, behind the scenes and on the front line of music, opera, and theatre with Scottish Opera, the Scottish Ensemble, and the Theatre Royal Glasgow. This experience, and my roles as an organist and choir director, created an enduring interest in the relationship between faith and the arts.

My formal journey of training for ministry began as an enquirer with Dr Browning at Morningside Parish Church. My first training placement was at St Bryce Kirk in Kirkcaldy. That was a rich experience where many in the congregation willingly took on worship and other leadership roles. The theology embraced modern and traditional thinking and technology was much in evidence in worship. Like Greenbank, the buildings were used as a parish hub and I gained huge insight into the potential for pastoral connections with parish and congregation.

Twice I have had training experience in churches overseas. I undertook a placement in summer 2013 with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana, a partner of the Church of Scotland. That gave much food for thought about how Christianity looks in different cultures. A chance meeting there led to me spending the summer of 2014 with a congregation of the Presbyterian Church of the USA at Tenafly New Jersey. As well as involvement in general parish life I was delighted to be involved in a summer Festival of Faith and the Arts.

My second main placement was with Richard Frazer at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh. I experienced the Kirk’s social enterprise, the Grassmarket Community Project, and was able to explore worship within a Reformed liturgical and musical tradition. Just as I was being encouraged to continue my academic training to PhD level, the opportunity arose to continue to work with Greyfriars in the project post of Artistic Associate, creating and managing the Spark! Festival of Worship and the Arts, marking the 25th anniversary of their magnificent Peter Collins pipe organ.

Then it was a time to get my head down on PhD research at New College on the worship experience of the Scottish Reformed Kirk in the period 1559-1617. This provided a tremendously rich insight into the distinctive character of the Kirk prior to the relative austerity which was the result of post-1617 strife in church and state. Anyone interested can quiz me further! And it was there I met my wife, Sarah, who came to undertake postgraduate study in science and theology at New College from her home in Michigan, via study at Princeton Seminary. We were married in Spruce Presbyterian Church, Caledonia Township, Michigan, in autumn 2015 with a reception in the family barn, epically renovated for the occasion by Sarah’s dad and his local friends!

We graduated together at McEwan Hall in November, so are now the doctors Ritchie! Sarah is currently working as a post-doctoral research and teaching fellow in science and religion at the University of St Andrews [appointed later in 2018 as Lecturer in Theology and Science at New College, University of Edinburgh] .

The 15 month long last lap in the training, as a full-time probationer, was the most richly formative. I was clear that I wanted a very “parish” experience in a community where I would have lots of involvement in pastoral care, working with families and the elderly, bereavement care and schools chaplaincy, to complement my other training experiences. St Mary’s Haddington delivered everything that I had hoped for. Working within a congregation where there is a growing number of families and young people, and creating and leading worship in contemporary and traditional styles, has been excellent preparation for work in a parish such as Greenbank that seeks to offer a menu of worship experiences. When the Minister had to go on long term sick leave I became “first call” on most aspects of parish life under the wise direction of the Interim Moderator the Very Rev John Cairns."

Martin Ritchie
(March 2018)


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