Meet the Pilgrims: Jesse Duley

What are you doing, and how did you end up doing it?

Jesse Duley

Among other things, I am the Worship Pastor at The Kingdom Vineyard in East Fife, Scotland. I’ve been here since 2005, a year after the church was planted. Based in St Andrews, where the university occupies a significant part of town life, we are inevitably a church with a large number of students (about 60% of our number). This means we are very much an equipping and sending church, with a growing network of alumni scattered across the world.

I originally came here after a deep desire to leave London (the city I’d lived in my whole life) was met with an invitation from the pastors planting from out of our sending church. That invitation was made at a wedding reception on a boat floating on Loch Lomond, whisky in hand and the sound of bagpipes drifting across the water. I was seduced, I tell ya! It was, however, a decision I have never regretted.

What’s your biggest passion for the church?

I am passionate about people forming a connection based on our deep need for Jesus and for each other. Church is where I not only get to be myself, but I actually get to find out who that self really is.

I’m incredibly passionate about worship. When the church gathers to worship, I believe we experience a taste of God’s beautiful future for us. In that environment, I become aware of a spiritual union that I have with people I wouldn’t naturally be drawn to, as well as with the church throughout history and around the world. I’m frustrated by conversation about worship that is constantly focussed upon form, ignoring the call for sacrificial offering of substance within God’s presence, where the Holy Spirit transforms the worshipping community.

What excites you about Jesus?

Jesus completely wrecked all my preconceived notions of God, and continues to do so. There’s something in me that, without Jesus, arrives at all sorts of wrong notions of who God is and what he is like. Jesus shows me who God is, and offers me the intimacy with God that I desperately want and need. What’s more, he keeps doing so despite my constantly rebellious nature.

I’m excited that I’m able to talk about the human being Jesus in the present tense, as one who has been the way of pain and death, but who now lives and offers life. He guides my way forward, while also exciting me with brief glimpses of the destination.

Who has most shaped your spirituality/discipleship journey?

There are a number of key individuals I could name, but they all have certain things in common. I’ve been deeply affected by those who have shown me complete (and undeserved) trust, and have been willing to take risks on me, bordering on recklessness. In conversation (normally over a pint) I’ve been given room to say things I’m not even sure I believe, just so that I can work out what I do believe, without feeling at risk of burning bridges (with me on them). I’ve been able to be my whole self – not just my thinking/acting self, but also my emotional/exhausted self.

Of particular significance have been those who sacrifice their own comfort in order to call out things they’ve seen in me, whether good things needing affirmation or bad things that need dealing with. I often fail to perceive things on either side, and I have been blessed with people who have called them out with profound humility and compassion. I hope to be to others what such people have been to me.

 

Jesse is the Worship Pastor at the Kingdom Vineyard in St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. He’s most at home behind a guitar, but is becoming increasingly comfortable behind a lectern. Having recently completed a degree in Theology & Biblical Studies, he’s now planning to teach himself Koine Greek. For fun.

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