Borders women embarking on new ministerial careers

Grace Redpath is to be ordained into the Episcopal Church this weekend, just as Margaret Pedderson begins training to follow in her footsteps.
Grace Redpath is to be ordained into the Episcopal Church this weekend, just as Margaret Pedderson begins training to follow in her footsteps.

At an age when others might be thinking of planning their retirement, two Borders women are embarking on new vocational careers.

This weekend 61-year-old Grace Redpath is to be ordained into the Episcopal Church, just as Margaret Pedderson, 53, begins training to follow in her footsteps.

Until now the paths the two have trodden have been vastly different, but they converged a few years ago at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kelso.

Grace trained as a teacher, but never went into teaching after marrying farmer Keith Redpath and becoming a full-time farmer’s wife and then mother.

She had been brought up to read the Bible and pray every day as a member of the Evangelical Church, but, while she never doubted her Christian faith, she admits she did question many aspects.

In spite of a strong faith in God, she says: “I just felt very unsettled in the church. In the Evangelical Church all the answers are there, but really life is not like that.”

So when she and Keith moved from Chirnside to Kelso 12 years ago they decided to attend a different church in the town for a month each.

Sitting in a pew at St Andrew’s, she remembered: “We came here and it was quite formal, but we decided to come back and the second visit we knew this was where we wanted to be. I know I am in the right place.”

Since that time the couple have become very involved in the church, with Keith now being Rector’s Warden.

With her daughters having grown up, married and with families of their own, Grace felt the time was right to begin studying and in 2007 she embarked on what she describes as a “great adventure” - becoming a student at the Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The fulfilment of that dream comes this weekend when, after her ordination at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday, she takes up a post as Curate at Christ Church, Duns, before returning to St Andrew’s next summer.

Margaret is just as enthusiastic as she now embarks on the same adventure.

Kelso-born Margaret qualified in catering before marrying her Australian husband Richard. They went to his homeland where their children were born and she decided to fulfil a long-held ambition to study theology in Canberra.

“I had felt a calling to the ministry for a long time but I wasn’t confident enough,” she explained. “They had to make me teach in Sunday School as my children were growing up.”

Now back on home turf and encouraged by Grace’s experience and by Rector, the Rev Bob King, Church chorister Margaret is ready to begin her course.

At the same time she is working with her husband on the restoration of Morebattle Church to create a pilgrimage centre on the St Cuthbert’s Way.

It may have been a very long journey that women have trodden to gain recognition in the church, but Grace and Margaret are now grasping the opportunities which have finally opened up to them.