Rev Iver Martin is set to leave Stornoway Free Church after accepting the post of full-time Principal of Edinburgh Theological Seminary.

For the past two years Mr Martin has been undertaking the duties of Principal on a part-time basis, juggling it with his existing commitments and duties with the Stornoway congregation.

Following a review, Edinburgh Theological Seminary were able to produce a business plan to support a full-time appointment for Principal.

The Stornoway minister was the unanimous nomination for the role from the Free Church’s six Scottish Presbyteries, and accepted the post in person at the General Assembly last night.

The new Principal said: “I feel first a sense of profound sadness in having to leave Stornoway where I've lived for 12 years and been the minister of a wonderful church. I can't express how much they've meant to me and I will miss them terribly.

“At the same time the Assembly has reached a unanimous and prayerful decision which I can't just ignore.

“They have placed upon me a frightening responsibility which has implications not just for the Free Church but for the wider church in Scotland.

“It's a huge privilege in which I will need the continued support of my colleagues.

“I ask the whole church to pray for ETS and its future ministry.”

Rev Dr Malcolm Maclean, chairman of the Edinburgh Theological Seminary Board, added: “The Board of Edinburgh Theological Seminary is delighted with the appointment of Rev Iver Martin as full-time Principal of the Seminary.

“He has shown during the last two years, when functioning as part-time Principal, that he possesses the necessary dedication and gifts to oversee the ongoing growth of the Seminary and to spread its influence in the UK and abroad.”

Mr Martin became the assistant of Stornoway Free Church in 1995 after completing his studies for the ministry at the Free Church College.

In 1997 he accepted a call to Bon Accord Free Church in Aberdeen, before returning to become minister of Stornoway Free Church in 2003. He has served there for the past 12 years.  

It is expected that the 57-year-old will leave the Stornoway congregation before the end of the summer, with a date and interim moderator likely to be arranged at the next meeting of the Western Isles Presbytery.

Earlier in the evening Seminary Board chairman Rev Dr Malcolm Maclean presented an impressive plan for the future of Edinburgh Theological Seminary.

This includes the aim of attracting 300 students (a mix of full and part-time) by 2020 – there are currently over 200.