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Steve Savage Publishers Ltd
CoverThe Reluctant Reformation of Clarence McGonigall

Ron Ferguson

illustrated by Bill McArthur

sample extract
isbn 9781904246091 rrp 5.99 paperback illustrated 128 pages

The future is arriving, and the Winds of Change are blowing through the Kirk. The new marketing slogan is 'Smile with Jesus!', and presumably some in the (rebranded) Presbyterian Church (Scotland) were smiling even as they wiped the smile off the face of the Reverend J Clarence McGonigall MA BD with sponsored communion, short-term contracts for ministers, and payment by results. Clarence's beloved wife Agnes finds it hard to help. Pestered by computers, mobile phones and bonding sessions, his natural reaction is truculent intransigence (and occasional appeals to the spirits of John Knox and Jenny Geddes). If only he can make it to retirement...

Clarence McGonigall first made his appearance in the pages of Life & Work, and quickly became a cult figure in the Kirk.


A former Church of Scotland minister, Ron Ferguson is now a full-time writer. From 1990 to 2001 he was minister of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. Living in Orkney, he is a regular columnist and book reviewer with both The Herald and the Press and Journal , and has twice been a runner up for Columnist of the Year in the Bank of Scotland Press Awards. He was shortlisted for the McVities Scottish Writer of the Year Award for his biography of George MacLeod.

'In Clarence, Ron Ferguson has created a worthy and wily successor to Rikki Fulton's much-loved I.M.Jolly. His Reluctant Reformation is a little treat: easy to read and great fun too.'
-- Morag Lindsay, Aberdeen Press and Journal

'Clarence -- crabbit, cussed but ultimately compassionate and on the side of the angels -- ... is a consummate creation.'
-- Harry Reid

'The book is offered to us as "an entertainment". But despite all the clowning, this is also a health warning for the Churches against adopting the spirit of the age, its fashions and its practices; above all its obsession with "image".
   'Clarence is not always courteous; he is not always sober; he is the damaged angel. But he has a deep humanity and a profound sense of humour. That is why, when he comes to retire, he will be genuinely missed.'
-- J. W.M. Cameron, Theology in Scotland

'Readers have reported outbreaks of hilarity among friends and family of all ages ... Life & Work is delighted to have spawned such a runaway success.'
-- Lynne Robertson

'Told with a humour which will definitely appeal to those who know the Kirk well ... its gentle humour has a typically Scots feel.'
-- Dumfries and Galloway Standard

'Another joyful reminder of his literary talent. A former leader of the Iona Community, and until recently minister of St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney, Ron is a weekly columnist for the Herald and the Press and Journal. He is also a leading authority on the life and writings of Søren Kierkegaard. Like Kierkegaard, Ron uses satire and larger than life characters, to highlight some of the hypocrisies and absurdities of ecclesiastical life ... a welcome change from the many earnest reports and volumes about church reforms which are being regularly produced. It might even have a greater impact. Perhaps through the mirthquake a still small reforming voice will be heard.'
-- James A. Simpson, Expository Times

'Writing with liveliness and a lightness of touch, Ron Ferguson places his "hero" in some wonderfully funny situations, but always with insights to ponder, offering amusement and deep meaning in equal measure ... I laughed out loud at parts of this book. I worried at the danger-signs Ron exposes through McGonigall's exploits. I cried at the moving accounts of a minister journeying through the joy and pain of Christmas and Easter. I rejoiced at little victories for compassion, sanity and reason.'
-- Tom Gordon, Coracle

'Quite hilarious ... primarily a very entertaining reductio ad absurdum.'
-- Open House