The Reverend Doctor Stewart Gillan thought his 10th anniversary as minister of St Michaels would be toasted at a private dinner with his wife.
How wrong could someone be? For, instead, a well-kept secret swung into action!
A message was sent to the restaurant that a couple of visiting fellow Canadians had turned up at the kirk hall looking for him.
Hastily finishing their meal, both Stewart and his wife Sarah hurried along the High Street, wracking their brains as to who these visitors could be.
On arrival, Stewart was astounded to find not two visiting Canadians but a huge number of friends and members of the congregation, who had conspired to organise a celebratory ceilidh to mark his anniversary.
Associate minister at St Michael’s, the Rev Cheryl McKellar-Young, presented a “This is your Life” programme which included video messages from Stewart’s parents and family in Canada; the Rev Dr Jim Francis, a close ministry friend and former associate at St Michael’s; and the Rev Johnny Paton, the most recent former associate at St Michael’s, who is now ministering on Mull.
Bob Ross, who was chairman of the vacancy committee at the time of Stewart’s appointment to St Michael’s recalled said the committee had heard Stewart preach at St John’s in Bathgate, a smaller church than St Michael’s.
“One question we had was whether you could make yourself heard in St Michael’s,” he told Bob. “You’ve managed to do that no problem. You have made your mark.”