Minister to Queen will preach Week One

Mary Lee Talbot | Staff Writer

When you think of being chaplain to the Queen of England, you don’t normally expect a person who also has a hand in everyday ministry to a young man convicted of armed robbery, but the Rev. Alastair Symington has kept a presence in parish work while carrying a title that only 32 other people hold. Symington will be the chaplain for the first week of the 2011 Season at Chautauqua. He will preach at the opening worship service at 10:45 Sunday morning.

The Rev. Alastair Henderson Symington has served as the senior minister at Troon Old Parish Church since 1998 and has served as Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland since 1996. Troon is located in Ayrshire Coast of the Firth of Clyde. Prior to his present dual roles, he had served as assistant minister at Wellington Church in Glasgow, as a Royal Air Force Chaplain, as minister at Craiglockhart Parish Church and as Senior Minister at New Kilpatrick Parish Church, all in Scotland. Throughout his years in ministry, he has been active in the Church of Scotland, serving on a variety of committees and commissions.

The theme for the week’s sermons is “The Second Book Of The Acts,” a look at the acts of apostles in the world today. His sermon for Sunday is titled “Try Harder to
Irritate. “

At the 5 p.m. Vespers Service in the Hall of Philosophy, he will talk about his faith journey, “Nearing the Final Straight.”

His other topics for the 9:15 a.m. worship services Monday through Friday include “Time for Some Scandal,” “The Treasure You Have,” “Surrender is OK,” “Time to Move On” and “Take Courage and Go!”

A 1968 graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Symington received a master’s degree and specialized in modern language. He continued his studies at Edinburgh and at the University of Tübingen in Germany until 1971. He received a First Class Honors Degree in Old Testament Language, Literature and Theology.

In 1993, he co-authored a book with Scottish comedian Rikki Fulton called For God’s Sake, Ask! One of Fulton’s most famous characters was the “Rev. I.M. Jolly,” a well-meaning but dour minister, based on a collection of ministers full of doom and gloom. The book is a compilation of conversations that developed after several years of friendship between the two men. They shared the view that the comic character of the “Rev. I.M. Jolly” was not necessarily the best face of the church today. The book dealt with many of the questions that faith presents to ordinary people and tried to offer a few answers.

A frequently sought-after guest preacher in the U.S., Canada, Norway, Portugal and Hungary, this will be Symington’s fourth visit to Chautauqua as Chaplain of the Week.