Westmont Magazine A Change of Pulpit
Last summer Rev. Bill Anderson ’78 found himself preaching to a group of utter strangers. And his congregation, Palmdale Presbyterian Church in Melbourne, Fla., welcomed an unknown pastor to their pulpit.
For four weeks in 1997, Bill exchanged churches, homes, and cars with Scottish pastor Alan Telfer. They met in 1982 when Bill served a year-long internship at a church in Scotland as part of his training at Princeton Seminary. The two men developed a close friendship and kept in touch over the years.
So Bill, his wife, Lane, and their three children traveled to the Scottish village of Mauchline in Ayrshire. With a population of 5,000, the town has only one church, Mauchline Parish Church, and Rev. Telfer is only the 18th minister since the Reformation.
His first week on the job, Bill performed two funerals and a wedding. “Because Mauchline Parish Church is the only congregation, the minister marries and buries everyone,” he explains.
In addition to adjusting to unfamiliar, age-old traditions , the Andersons had to cope with the weather. “We weren’t expecting temperatures in the 40s in the middle of June,” Bill says.
On the fourth of July, the church threw a party in their honor and put on a show depicting different aspects of American life, from Elvis to Neil Armstrong. They even asked a McDonald’s restaurant in a neighboring village to do the catering.
The Anderson children, ages 6, 8, and 11, had a great time and enjoyed being celebrities for a month.
“It was a terrific experience—I have a tremendous amount of respect for Alan,” Bill notes. The two pastors hope to pull another switch in the future.