One of the Church of Scotland’s two deaf ministers has been inducted in the north-east.
Rev Mary Whittaker, who was born deaf, has been appointed to the deaf congregation of St John’s Church for Deaf People in Aberdeen.
The minister, who was born in Yorkshire but has lived in the north-east for most of her life, was inducted at a special service.
Now covering the whole of the north of Scotland, Rev Whittaker’s new parish covers from Perth to Shetland – including Aberdeen.
She said: “I was in a college for the deaf when I first visited a deaf-led church in London. After two years, I wanted to be a minister but I was advised by a deaf elder to get life experience first.
“Looking back, it was very good advice as I was only 19 years old. After gaining a BSc (Hons) in Life Science in London, I moved to Aberdeen and became a member of St John’s Church for Deaf People and have been based there since.”
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It was while in Aberdeen she studied Christian studies part-time at Aberdeen University and completed the auxiliary minister training course in 2011. She is one of only two deaf ministers in the whole of the country and was ordained in Lossiemouth as the first deaf British Sign Language user in the Church of Scotland.
Miss Whittaker enjoys walking her hearing dog Scott during her special moments with God and nature. Scott, who has been a valuable companion for more than seven years, has been trained to respond to sounds such as doorbells, oven timers and fire alarms.
Rev Whittaker added: “I became a locum for St John’s Deaf Church.
“I felt a further call to transition into full-time ministry but I was advised to go back to the University of Aberdeen for two years to gain a Bachelor of Divinity (BD). In the same year after I graduated, I started as a probationer minister, mostly with Ferryhill Parish Church in Aberdeen, as well as continuing with St John’s Church for Deaf People.”
Rev John Ferguson, Presbytery clerk for Aberdeen, said: “Mary brings a wealth of experience and is highly respected among the deaf community in the north of Scotland.”