Kilsyth clergyman is taking care of kirk in Lisbon this summer

A minister who is originally from Kilsyth is spending his summer in the Portugese capital as he provides locum cover at St Andrew’s presbyterian church.

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By Clare Grant
By Clare Grant

This is actually the second sun-drenched stint in Lisbon for Reverend Jim Patrick who emigrated to South Africa in the 1970s but has provided cover for a number of Church of Scotland parishes abroad, including the Paris Kirk.

After a brief stint back to see family in his hometown, venturesome Jim is now installed in the in the city’s upmarket Lapa district which is home to many foreign embassies. To prove it. the adjoining manse now operates as the Indonesian embassy while Jim is accommodated in a spacious modern apartment in another part of the city.

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The former Kilsyth Academy pupil who usually lives in Cape Town said: “I can either walk to the church up and down the cobbled streets or I can rattle along in a wood-panelled tram. Lisbon has kept its extensive tram system and fleet of vintage trams – to the delight of visitors.

“The congregation is quite small and made up of English-speaking expatriates from various countries like the UK, USA, South Africa, India, Sri Lank as well as local Portuguese. In fact, though it’s officially Church of Scotland, I’m the only Scot!

“On any given Sunday, tourists make up about half the congregation. In one day we had people from Hungary, Poland, Northern Ireland, New York, Texas, Mexico. So far, nobody from Scotland or Kilsyth.

"Following the service, there’s what could be called a happy hour when the congregation offers generous hospitality as provided by a roster of church members.

“Otherwise, for a European capital, Lisbon is notably laid-back and unstressful and very liveable-in. Almost, you might say, homely: even in the vicinity of Parliament, washing flaps high up over head from the windows of the tall tenement-like residential buildings. Also, Lisbon still has many small, varied local shops.

"On my own street, there’s a wool shop, a toy shop, a sweetie shop, a shop selling brushes, another selling pots and pans, and a “pasteleria” selling custard tarts.

“I like it here and feel relaxed and at peace.”