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Find out more about the minister of Howe Trinity Parish Church


Minister of Howe Trinity Parish and family man
Music plays an important factor in John Cook's ministry
When and where were you born?
I was born in 1958 in the burgh of Kirkcaldy, Fife.
When did you "discover" Christianity?
I was baptized and went to Sunday School in Victoria Road Church, Kirkcaldy (now St Andrew's Parish Church). At the age of 11 or 12 I stopped going to church and dismissed it as irrelevant. However, when I was 15 I met two friends, Bill and Nick, who had attended a Scripture Union camp and came back full of the faith. They talked to me about their faith and gave me a New Testament in modern English. As I read and talked, the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place, and I realised that this was for me. Through the rest of my time at school I was involved in a Scripture Union group at school and in SU camps (mainly at Scoughall near North Berwick). This involvement played a major part in reinforcing my new faith.
When did you decide to make ministering your life's work?
After school I planned to study English at university, with no very clear idea of what would follow, despite many helpful suggestions. However, one day I sat down to think about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. As I thought about it, I realised that it wasn't a question of what I was going to do with my life as much as what God was going to do with the rest of my life. And as I thought about this, the idea of the ministry began to take shape in my mind. As soon as I had come to a renewed understanding of faith I started attending my home church again. I didn't find it terribly exciting, but I was aware that it was my spiritual home, and I felt I should stick with it.
Where and when did you study theology?
I continued with my course in English, as it is still a common pattern for ministers to study some other subject before theology. While at Edinburgh University I became involved with a Christian group called the Navigators, which places an emphasis on personal discipleship, study of the bible and sharing faith with others. Their simple approach was very helpful to me. After I graduated I did not want to go straight on to study theology. So I returned to Kirkcaldy and spent some months signing on. I then worked for nearly a year as a care assistant at a residential home for the elderly. Then through the Church of Scotland's Operation Youthshare Project (now World Exchange). I taught English at Clarendon College, Jamaica for a year. I couldn't say this was the happiest year in my life, but I am very glad to have had the experience of living and working in a third world country.

After my time in Jamaica I studied theology at Aberdeen University from 1982-85, when I graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. As well as the academic study, candidates for the ministry also had to undertake placements at different churches. For me the most important of these was at St George's Church, Tillydrone . Over a period of years a succession of three students lived in a flat in the housing scheme. As well as being involved in leading the services, we were involved in leading children's holiday clubs, working with teenagers and community work.
Please give a brief description of your career to date.
After my studies, I served for a year as assistant minister to Rev Alan J Roy at Ogilvie & Stobswell Parish Church, Dundee (now Stobswell).

On 21 July 1986 I was ordained as minister of Foveran Parish Church. Foveran lies at the mouth of the Ythan, 12 miles north of Aberdeen, and includes the village of Newburgh.

I was inducted as minister of Howe Trinity on 21 March 2000.
Where and when were you married?
Alison and I were married at Foveran Parish Church in 1992. We have two children, Isabella and Roy.
What was the deciding factor in choosing to serve Howe Trinity?
Difficult to say. I suppose the idea of a new challenge, a larger congregation but similar to my previous one. Also the factor of able committed people keen to move on in faith.
How do you see the future of this parish?
Again, difficult to say. As I have said there is a strong core of committed people. We have a tremendous resource in the newly renovated building. I would also like to continue to bring children, teenagers and young adults into the life of the congregation.
If you could change any single thing what would it be?
Difficult to pick out one thing. I suppose it would be to find a way to bring in young people. But perhaps at a more fundamental level we need to find a way to encourage the life of prayer in the congregation.
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Howe Trinity Parish Church is a Registered Scottish Charity - No. SCO 07979