New job will be labour of love for minister Margaret

Rev. Margaret Steele. New Selkirk Parish Church minister.
Rev. Margaret Steele. New Selkirk Parish Church minister.

Ashkirk and Selkirk welcomed their new minister to the fold last week.

Originally from the north east, former midwife Reverend Margaret Steele was inducted at Selkirk Parish Church on Friday.

The 54-year-old said: “I just enjoy being with people and showing the love that God has for them.”

Born in Montrose, Margaret grew up in Turiff. She graduated in nursing studies at Edinburgh before moving to Dumfries where she trained as a midwife and spent 10 years as a staff midwife then sister, and as a labour ward sister. She moved on to Perth where she was a community midwife and from there moved into the ministry.

She told us: “Nursing for me was about caring for people. This is a different type of caring.

“My mother would always tell the story that at the age of eight I heard a nursing sister who was also a missionary in Malawi preach and that I had come out of church and said, ‘I think God wants me to be a nurse’.”

Though she loved nursing, gradually she turned her thoughts to the ministry.

The minister revealed: “Over the years three people had said to me they thought I should think about training for the ministry – I would never have thought about it. I always wanted to do what I thought God wanted me to do. It took me about a year.”

But she did go ahead and apply to New College, Edinburgh.

“I believe you open the doors, if they shut, they shut, if they don’t you go through them. I went through them.”

She served her probationary period at Scone Old Parish Church and was briefly assistant minister at Perth’s North Church before becoming parish minister at Uphall South near Broxburn in May 2000.

Concerning her expectations about her vocation she said: “I thought there are two strands – there’s the caring side and the teaching, preaching side, and both for me have equal value.”

What was unexpected about the ministry was it’s “all consuming nature”. “It’s a 24/7 job, though I do take a day off. It’s a challenge but it’s positive. You never know what’s next – in that way it’s like the labour ward, you don’t know what’s coming in the door”, she said..

Though she had gone to church and Sunday school as a child, she was 14 and at a Scripture Union camp in 1971 when she fully embraced her faith: “It was there that I saw Jesus could be a friend at a personal level. Rather than someone you know about and was out there, his love was available to help you day by day therefore he could be a personal friend and help.”

Two things prompted this she said – the talks and the leaders: “There was something about the leaders that was different from other people I knew – it was a quiet assurance, and love and care that they had.”

Over the years she has been involved in youth groups, was a bible studies leader and, with others, set up an all ages worship group: “I’m very much an enabler, I’m not somebody who wants to do everything myself – teamwork is very important.”

She explained her decision to move to the Borders: “I began to think that God was saying I wasn’t the person to take Uphall South onto the next stage of their journey and that there would be somebody with different skills for them and that prompted me to look around.”

That coincided with the Ashkirk and Selkirk vacancy coming up following the Rev Jim Campbell’s move from the local parish to Fife.

“I opened the doors and they carried on opening. I had a keen sense of God saying this is the place for you”, she commented.

The local communities’ new minister also enjoys reading, going on foreign holidays, swimming and walking.

“I enjoy meeting people and talking to new people, I love hearing people’s stories.”

For now she says: “I want to take time to get to know the people in the church and the community. The priorities will emerge.”