Maudeen MacDougall has taken over as minister for the parish covering Carnwath, Carstairs and the surrounding villages.
And her patch includes the State Hospital, a place of great interest to someone who once considered psychiatric nursing and spent her university holidays each year working in a psychiatric hospital.
But the church won out, and Maudeen began her career in an experimental ministry in Livingston, for an ecumenical grouping of the Church of Scotland, the Episcopal Church, Methodist and Congregational Union, all working together.
“That was a good beginning,” she said.
After six years in Livingston she went to Dundee, for a city centre ministry at Meadowside St Paul’s, looking after a wide spectrum of people from the homeless to the academics from the university.
Maudeen amassed a wealth of experience in her years there, before going to Kirkcaldy, and then moving to Carnwath linked with Carstairs, vacant since the Rev Alan Gibson left. The parish includes Carstairs Junction, whose church building closed in 2015. Carnwath’s religious history goes back to the 12th century, with the mediaeval St Mary’s Aisle still standing. But the cost of maintaining the 1860s church, became too much, and it closed with services now held in the town hall.
“I feel very happy and very privileged to be in the parish of Carnwath and Carstairs, where people have been doing a lot of interesting work during the vacancy.” said Maudeen. “I was impressed by the website, and by the nominating committee. I came here and had a look around, and thought there was great potential in this area.
“There is a very very interesting and very old history, but there is a buzz about the place and people are very warm and friendly, and there is a tremendous mix within the parish.
“There is a lot of life in the place; it is an ideal spot, full of potential.”
Maudeen plans to give people the opportunity to explore and develop faith.
“I would like to think that all the people in the parish would feel included and accept an invitation to come and explore,” she said.
Maudeen’s father was also a minister, and now her sister Lorna, who has been an auxiliary minister for over 12 years, is due to graduate with her Bachelor of Divinity degree in June.