Welcome to the Reverend Carolyn Kelly

Published: 7 May 2020

New University Chaplain starts in post

Welcome to the Reverend Carolyn Kelly, the new University Chaplain

As the University bade a fond farewell to the Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie last week, it offered a warm welcome to its new University Chaplain, the Reverend Carolyn Kelly.Rev Carolyn Kelly, new University Chaplain

A fifth-generation New Zealander, she can nevertheless trace many of her forefathers back to Scotland. Nor is this her first sojourn in Scotland – she did her PhD, on arts and theology (particularly the writer and minister George MacDonald) at the University of Aberdeen.

Aged 57, she was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand in 2015. Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand and the church was founded by Scottish settlers in the 1840s. She is currently in the process of applying to be received into the Church of Scotland. Her husband, the Rev. Mark Johnston, has also been a Church of Scotland minister in the past and has joined the University’s department of Theology and Religious Studies where he is developing online and short courses.

A former secondary English teacher, Carolyn had considerable experience of working with students in other forms of ministry before deciding to train formally for chaplaincy and ministry work.

Their eldest daughter (of a family of three) would normally be based in Edinburgh but is currently living in lockdown with Carolyn and her husband. Lockdown is not, she acknowledges, the way she expected to start her new life working in Glasgow.

Our current extraordinary situation has “challenged our understanding of God and our way in the world”, says Carolyn.

“Chaplaincy offers a chance to explore some of that and to think deeply about how changes in people’s lives affect them,” she adds.

Finding a “new norm” as we emerge from the pandemic will offer both continuity as well as significant change.

“How we explore that change and how we support one another through those changes in our community will need courage and grace,” she says.

The future may see a shift in people’s priorities and, she hopes, a greater focus on evening out inequalities. A committed environmentalists, she believes the pandemic may also change our relationship with our physical world and its precious resources.

Lockdown has meant that she has had to carry out her introductions to the University community virtually, meeting the SRC, SMG, other faith chaplains and inter-faith bodies in Glasgow and Scotland at a safe, social distance. She hopes to be able to put a filmed service online in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, she wants to hear from the University community, so please email her at chaplain@glasgow.ac.uk.

First published: 7 May 2020