Ardbeg Baptist Church members welcomed their new pastor-elect, the Reverend Ron Rye, to their parish at an induction and social event recently.
Ron was born and bred in Edinburgh and completed his education at Stewart’s Melville College in the city.
The ministry didn’t call him immediately, but during his second year of teacher training at the Moray House Institute of Education, he met Stephanie, the woman he would eventually marry.
Ron would later spend two years working in Edinburgh in the property sector, and it was during that time he married Stephanie, before taking steps to enter into the ministry in 2007.
How exactly that came about was something of a twist of fate – Stephanie and Ron had been doing a study together, and got to a point in the book of Joshua which says ‘Choose you this day whom you will serve’.
Ron says: “I remember she [Stephanie] was just looking at me and smiling. And I looked back and said, ‘I’m supposed to go and do this whole ministry thing, aren’t I?’, and she said, ‘Yes, you are’.
“She always knew what I was supposed to be doing, but she knew to let me figure it out on my own.”
Ron then went to the Scottish Baptist College in Paisley, and while he carried out his four years of study, worked with Viewfield Bapist Church, where he was essentially taken on as an apprentice.
So what was it that made him decide on Bute, we asked?
“The journey here was bizarre,” he told us. “I had to go all the way to London to find out I was needed in Bute.
“I’d gone there to find out about a position in a church which did a lot of creative things, a lot of outreach, a lot of community interaction, which of course, is fantastic.
“But the sudden realisation for me was that, actually, the places who know how to do that aren’t the ones who need us. It’s the ones who are forgotten about, who are left pretty much to their own devices.
“The larger Baptist churches are the ones who receive all the help and support, and it annoys me – to the point of me possibly being labelled as a trouble-maker!
“The wee churches who work so hard, week after week to keep going, to care about each other, to show love, they’re just left to get on with it.
“That’s just not right. It’s the wee places who show us what we should be doing. And that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted to be somewhere where I could get to know the people.”
And how is Ron settling into island life so far?
“Stephanie currently teaches in Stirling,” he said, “and we’ve been married seven years, but we’ve been together closer to ten years, so that transition is going to be hard.
“But the actual getting to know the island is great - it’s a great place. People haven’t treated me as an outsider, which is really nice, and I’m enjoying getting to know everyone.”