For almost five years now Eric MacLeod has been the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Austin. Loved by his congregation and the community, MacLeod is known affectionately as the "Silly Scotsman." Many describe him as "charming" and "whitty" with his Scottish accent, but still able to be serious and sensible when it comes to preaching. Members of the congregation speak highly of his preaching abilities, often encouraging their friends to visit the church just to hear MacLeod preach.
"We loved his accent." Said Elizabeth Thompson, a member of Trinity. "He could read the phone book and it would be interesting. It really made us pay attention more during sermons."
But recently MacLeod's standing in the eyes of his congregation took a serious nosedive when it was uncovered that he was not Scottish at all, but rather, he was from Florida. Now he faces losing his job as the church's pastor.
"I came up to the church late one Tuesday evening to pick up some papers that had been left in my box." Said Alex Hampton, one of the church's ruling elders. "I walked past the main office of the church and noticed there was a light left on. As I went in to turn it off I heard someone on the phone in Eric's office, but it didn't sound like him. So I went in and there he was, talking on the phone with someone in a plain old American accent. I was just plain shocked. Our eyes met, and I could tell he was nervous about being caught. Neither of us said anything, and I just left."
MacLeod was called before the elders the very next night where he confessed that he had lied to the church for five years, and that he was not from Scotland.
"He told us that the accent was all a fake, that he really wasn't from Scotland." Said Hampton. "But it's more than just the accent. All the stories about the 'old country' that he used to tell us in his sermon illustrations, his supposed knowledge of Scottish ales, his quoting of 'old Scottish sayings,' the rolled "Rs" and the witty jabs at America 'from across the pond,' all of it has been fake. We've been betrayed!"
Since the scandal was uncovered MacLeod has not spoken to the congregation, nor has he made any public statement, but is expected to this upcoming Sunday morning.
"All these years I've been telling everyone we had a pastor from Scotland when we've just had some guy from Florida." Said Thompson. "It really irks me. You take away the accent and he's about as dry as the Sahara."
While the elders have not formally decided what will happen to MacLeod, it has been suggested that he resign as pastor.