Alumni Spotlight: Rev. Dr. James Paton

Rev. Dr. James Paton, DMin 2005

“Where are you from?” This is probably the hardest question for James to answer. Originally from Scotland, James grew up in Northern Ireland, where he met his wife Gillian. After studying economics at the University of Glasgow, he began a successful career, qualifying as a Chartered Tax Advisor with EY. Gillian studies music at Glasgow and currently plays with Calgary Civic Symphony, as well as working at First Alliance Church.

James came to faith as a child and has a vivid memory of praying with his mother to accept Jesus. Sensing God’s call to pastoral ministry, James studied at the University of Manchester before serving in his first church in Perth, Scotland. He was soon assigned overseas to an international church in Switzerland, which he describes as one of the most formative periods of his life. This experience helped him to grow in many ways, especially through questioning new realities and putting on new lenses for how to do effective ministry.

By this time, they had three children, though today they are empty nesters. John (26) works as a data scientist for KPMG in Amsterdam. Callum (21) studies European business and politics at the University of Maastricht, in The Netherlands. Eilidh (20) is also in Maastricht studying public health.

While in Switzerland, James won a Beeson Scholarship from Asbury Theological Seminary. He began the DMin. program in 2001 and graduated in 2005; during that time, he did one year residentially at Asbury in Wilmore, Kentucky. This program focused on Church Leadership and Biblical Preaching and was a very beneficial time of stretching for James as he entered a whole new level of understanding. Some of his most influential experiences came from living in community with his cohort group, going on several eye-opening site visits, learning proper exegesis of Biblical texts, and ultimately deepening his understanding of how to be a follower of Jesus and leader in ministry.

While at Asbury, James first encountered the Christian & Missionary Alliance, where Steve Elliott was pastor in Lexington. After serving as Associate Lead Pastor at Foothills Alliance in Calgary for almost 10 years, he accepted the call to become Teaching Pastor at Crossroads International Church in Amsterdam, a flagship European church with a vibrant ministry in a post-everything culture. He has most recently returned to Calgary as Lead Pastor of First Alliance Church. FAC has 4,000 in attendance at its weekend services and is a rapidly multiplying church.  

James also lectures for Ambrose University, Tyndale Theological Seminary, and European Nazarene College in pastoral and historical theology. He speaks several languages, as he has lived in five countries and thoroughly loves to travel. Because he has so many passports, he has been mistaken for a spy. He loves books and movies, especially spy stories and science fiction. He also enjoys hiking and is quite pleased with his kids, who recently purchased an honorary title for him from the micro-nation of Sealand. James also likes driving fast cars 🙂


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