Church of Scotland congregations are said to be ‘in shock’ after news that there may soon be no minister to cover two churches in Helensburgh, Rhu and Shandon.
Rev George Vidits has resigned from his position in Helensburgh’s St Andrews Kirk and Rhu & Shandon – just weeks after Rev David Clark retired following 28 years of service.
Rev Vidits’ decision to leave the area is apparently for personal rather than theological reasons, but came as a complete surprise to parishioners when it was announced in church.
The news follows the merger of Helensburgh’s West Kirk and St Columba’s Church three years ago, forming St Andrew’s Kirk.
The Church of Scotland stressed that Rev Vidits was not leaving for religious reasons and said an interim moderator would be appointed to lead the congregations through the vacancy process before two new ministers were appointed.
Rev Clark, now Clerk of the Presbytery of Dumbarton, said: “Rev George Vidits is leaving Helensburgh and Rhu with our blessing and we are sorry to see him go.
“We wish him the very best for the future and are pleased he intends to continue to serve within the Church of Scotland.
“As a national church, the Church of Scotland is committed to serving and ministering to all parts of Scotland and the congregation of Helensburgh linked with Rhu and Shandon will receive its full support.’
Rev Vidits is getting married on October 14 and his final service, a joint one with St Andrew’s Kirk and Rhu & Shandon, will be held on October 5; it is not clear whether he has another church to go to.
In the monthly church newsletter he wrote about decision-making in the context of the independence referendum, then added:
I also had to make decisions about my personal future, about a new beginning. First of all there was the decision about getting married again, and then in prayer seeking God’s guidance for our married life. It was clear that God is presenting a new beginning for Emma and me, and in recent weeks the Lord made it very clear and emphatic that we cannot have a new beginning here in Helensburgh. It would not be a new beginning for us as a married couple; it would not be a new beginning for the congregations of St Andrew’s Kirk and Rhu & Shandon either!
A new life cannot be lived in a well settled, old way. It needs a new life, new opportunities, unseen and probably never imagined before.
It wasn’t an easy decision, we looked at various ways, but it became increasingly clear that the Lord is leading us away from Helensburgh and Rhu & Shandon. Eventually we had to make a decision. I am sorry to leave you all, but I am excited about all that God has in store for Emma and me. Kirk Sessions, Presbytery and congregations have been informed about this decision.