Chapel service to introduce John Swinton as new Master of Christ’s College

Reverend Professor John Swinton will be introduced as the new Master of Christ’s College at a joint service organised by Christ’s College, Aberdeen Presbytery and the University of Aberdeen.

The Service will take place at King’s College Chapel on Thursday 4 October at 7.30pm.

Professor Swinton was appointed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May following the retirement of the previous Master Rev Ian Dick.

All are welcome to attend the service, joining members of Aberdeen Presbytery, staff and students of the University and their guests.

Taking part will be University Chaplain Rev Easter Smart, Moderator of Aberdeen Presbytery Rev Scott Guy and Presbytery Clerk Rev John Ferguson.  The guest preacher will be Rev Nigel Parker, alumni of Christ’s College. and University Principal, Professor Ian Diamond, will read the lessons. The former Master Ian Dick will present the Charges to Professor Swinton.  Music for the service will be provided by Professor David Smith, head of music at the University.

John Swinton holds the chair in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care at the University of Aberdeen. He is also an honorary Professor at Aberdeen’s Centre for Advanced Studies in Nursing. Professor Swinton worked as a registered nurse specialising in psychiatry and learning disabilities and was for a number of years a community mental health chaplain.

He is an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland, and is the founder of the University’s Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability. Professor Swinton is currently working on an international project looking at the role of theology in understanding dementia and caring for people living with dementia.

Professor Swinton said: “I have a major interest in the pastoral ministry of the church. This interest emerges from my position as a minister in the Church of Scotland as well as my background in nursing and hospital chaplaincy. I worked for a number of years as a hospital chaplain, latterly as a community mental health chaplain. It was whilst working in these fields that I began to gain a passion for developing modes of care that are genuinely person centred and which take seriously the significance of theology, spirituality and religion within the processes of healing and community building.

“I am delighted to be appointed as the Master of Christ’s College. The church remains an important source of social and spiritual capital and it is a pleasure to be part of the training and formation of future leaders.”

Christ's College, Aberdeen, was one of three colleges in Scotland founded by the Free Church of Scotland for the training of ministers following the Disruption of 1843. The other two were New College, Edinburgh and Trinity College, Glasgow.

Following the Church reunion of 1929, Christ's College became a Church of Scotland college and was also integrated into the University of Aberdeen. It now is based within the University's King's College campus in Old Aberdeen. The post of Master of Christ's College is still a Church of Scotland appointment, but for most purposes it is closely connected with the University of Aberdeen's School of Divinity, History and Philosophy.

The principal role of Christ's College is to oversee the preparation and formation of ministerial candidates for the Church of Scotland. The College works closely with the Church of Scotland and the university to ensure that candidates receive appropriate academic training for the tasks of ministry. In this way the college seeks to contribute to the welfare and effective education of a group of professionals who have the potential to contribute much to the social and spiritual capital of society.

The College also funds a lectureship in Practical Theology, organises lectures and seminars, and hosts an annual lecture at the beginning of each academic year. In addition, the College maintains the Divinity Library, which serves all undergraduates within the department. The task of the Master is to oversee all of this and to help to develop creative and innovative strategies to facilitate change and development within both church and university.

Previous Masters include The Very Rev. Professor Alan Main, The Very Rev. Professor Iain Torrance, The Rev Dr Henry Sefton, and The Very Rev Professor Robin Barbour.