WHEN the Rev Neil Urquhart took charge of Fullarton Church three decades ago, he set out in breaking down barriers by modernising the Christian message.

Equipped with a guitar in the pulpit - a move considered radical even then - he succeeded the much more straight-laced Rev PG Thomson back in August 1989 and knew he wanted to take the congregation into a new era.

Now celebrating his 30th anniversary, Neil said: “Peter Thomson was in the church for 36 years and some people found it difficult to imagine life beyond him, he had built the church up really well. I remember someone coming to the door and I was in jeans and they were a bit shocked because Mr Thomson was known to have his dog collar even when gardening.

“There was no way I could fill Peter Thomson’s shoes. I came to Fullarton as there was an openness to change, a desire to grow and be stretched and freedom to be myself and help learn people to lead. I’m here 30 years later because of a willingness to grow and to change, not immediately. It was one small step at a time. In 1989 MP Brian Donohoe at the Big Pie gave the Toast to the Clergy and made comments about me emptying the church with my guitar, it was all tongue in cheek.

“I felt this was the way it was going and I hand the guitar over to others to play now. We wanted to use a modern way to celebrate the gospel.

“The Church Without Walls report came out in 2000 and that affirmed what we were doing and gave us permission to do more.

“We are in our fourth congregation now although some people were here when I started. There’s a willingness to change and we use social media to stream our services and that opens them up. I really enjoy my ministry and our aim has always been to share the love of Jesus and make disciples of people.

The congregation has a huge range of ages.

Killie fan Neil said: “We have everyone from babies to people in their 90s we have moved from buildings which were not fit for purpose and were not helping us do what we wanted to do in Fullarton Connexions and people from the Harbour come along.”