THE new Reverend at Clackmannan and Sauchie and Coalsnaughton Parish Churches has spoken of the “learning experience” as he takes charge of the two congregations.

Reverend Austin Wicks has been brought in as the joint minister of the two parish churches, as part of a Church of Scotland reshuffling.

He spoke with the Advertiser to discuss the challenges facing him, but insists he is looking forward to serving both communities.

“It is going to, for sure, be a balancing act,” Rev Wicks said. “Any minister who winds up in the charge of two congregations, it’s making certain that you take time to tend to both congregations.

“It also means I have two services on Sunday morning – Sauchie and Coalsnaughton at 10am and then Clackmannan at 11.30am.

“It’ll be double the work but I will be making efforts to connect with both congregations in both communities.”

The move will see both parish churches begin to operate as one, with Rev Wicks overseeing both congregations.

He makes the move after serving as assistant minister in Kinross and has been a fully ordained minister since 2019.

This is his first time as the sole minister of a charge and he insists he is looking forward to putting his stamp on things.

“I’m feeling pretty good about it,” he said. “It’s going to be a learning experience for all of us as we figure out what it means to be two churches together.

“It’s going to be a good opportunity for me to really sink my teeth into being the one in charge and getting a chance to listen to people and take a little prerogative to make the changes we want to see in the church.”

Installing a joint minister is becoming more common practice within the Church of Scotland.

Rev Wicks explained that the church carried out a reorganisation since the Covid lockdown, wherein they noticed a large discrepancy between the number of churches and the number of ministers they had.

To fill this gap, they have looked at combining churches and installing joint ministers to oversee two distinct congregations.

“It’s becoming more common,” Reverend Wicks continued. “The Church of Scotland did a major reorganisation in the last two or three years.

“They took a look at how many ministers they had and how many churches they had. They made an effort to find churches who could work together and were geographically close, and have since made linked charges and encouraged churches to form unions.

“Now, it’s becoming more and more common to have two, or even three, charges that you are connected to.”

Rev Wicks held his first services earlier this month, on Mothering Sunday, leading three services in the one day as he got firmly into his role.

"I'm really just sprinting into the position," he added.