Bo’ness flock seeks new shepherd
For the Very Rev. Albert Bogle has indicated his intention to step down from his post as minister at St Andrew’s Parish Church.
It really will be the end of an era for both the church and its popular, colourful minister who came to Bo’ness shortly after completing his training and who has spent his entire ministry in the town.
But, note, the irrepressible Albert has no plans just yet to retire.
‘‘I’m just demitting office,’’ he told the Journal and Gazette this week.
‘‘I have plans for the future and I’m looking forward to developing the Church of Scotland’s web-based material.
‘‘It’s a post similar to the Church Without Walls project which we pioneered at St Andrew’s many years ago.’’
Ever go-ahead and forward-looking, Albert was an early convert to the possibilities of multimedia, sound and vision linked, to deliver the Christian message with a distinct 21st century vision.
‘‘We like to think of ourselves at St Andrew’s as the church for people who don’t go to church,’’ the 2012 moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland said.
‘‘Over the years we have developed a number of ground-breaking initiatives which have gone on to be hugely successful,
‘‘It’s been a great journey and, naturally, it will be a wrench to leave St Andrew’s and Bo’ness but it would be wrong to stay in the town.
‘‘It’s an unwritten rule of the Church of Scotland that a minister demitting his charge or retiring leaves the town where he has worked.
‘‘To stay would be unfair to the incoming minister.’’
As well as multimedia worship, Albert has been instrumental in a host of far-reaching projects in Bo’ness and within the Church of Scotland.
Locally, Sanctus Media, Branches charity shop and a host of projects at St Andrew’s Parish Church have been born and flourished courtesy of Albert’s enthusiasm.
Branches, the Market Square, not-for-profit gift shop, evolved into the Vine Trust which now provides medical and spiritual support to indigenous peoples on the Peruvian banks of the Amazon River and on Lake Victoria in Africa.
Other highlights of Albert’s ministry were his ‘‘amazing’’ year as Moderator in which he travelled far and wide at home and abroad and preached for the Queen at her Golden Jubilee service in Glasgow Cathedral, as well as being guest of Her Majesty at Balmoral - a traditional invitation accorded to the current Moderator each year.
‘‘Being Moderator, that was a great honour,’’ added Albert.
‘‘I met so many interesting people and got the chance to visit many, many interesting places. It was fascinating and a privilege to serve the Church of Scotland in that way.’’
In his ‘‘spare time’’ Albert enjoys song-writing and performing and has recorded some half-dozen CDs with friends and colleagues.
A song co-written with long-time collaborator, Ian Jamieson, was used as the theme to the Amazon Hope documentary on BBC television about the work of the Vine Trust.
Douglas Farmer, former session clerk at St Andrew’s Parish Church paid tribute to Albert saying: ‘‘During his ministry members realised they had among them someone speaking from his belief in God and this was demonstrated fully in the value of his pastoral care through his conduct of visitation, baptism, marriage and funerals.
‘‘This also developed into a further realisation that Albert’s call to ministry went further than within our parish in Bo’ness.
‘‘His ministry is national and international and we tried our best to offer our support to him.
‘‘Locally, he continued a concerned interest in the youth from Guides, Brownies, Rainbows, The Boys’ Brigade, Sunday School and Youth Fellowship.
‘‘Encouragement was given to non-church families where we worked with sister churches in the town.’’
Albert, came to Bo’ness in 1981 with his wife, Martha, and their baby daughter Sarah Jane, fresh from his theology studies at Glasgow University.
The couple’s son, Stephen, was born after the family had settled into the manse on Stewart Avenue.