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News from Scotland

The Rural Strategy Team from the Mission and Discipleship Council of the Church of Scotland has recently brought out “God’s Own Country: a practical resource for rural churches”.

Although produced by one denomination it is clearly for the use of all, with the key aims of affirming, encouraging and inspiring rural Christian congregations throughout Scotland in mission and witness to their local communities.

Aspects of rural theology are looked at, alongside reflections on the nature and role of the rural church – including church buildings, key features of communities and rural

disadvantage in Scotland, as well as a variety of opportunities for mission. Of particular note are useful introductions to youth work, tourism and visitors, partnership and social action and

environmental concern from the perspective of the rural Scottish church. A helpful Rural Community Value Toolkit for church use is also included.

“God’s Own Country” is £6.99 per copy including post & packing, from Sheila Reeves at the Church of Scotland office: 0131 225 5722 or Buying a copy also allows you to become part of the Rural Church Database, which gives access to new information and resources as they become available.

•••• •

The Church of Scotland’s Rural Strategy Team has commissioned a Regional Development Officer to major on rural issues in the North East of Scotland. Dale London, from Montana, is studying for the ministry at the same time as preparing a range of activities to

The Big Cream Tea

True to the tradition of hospitality churches in Devon are inviting visitors and locals to share a big cream tea as a way of showing guests that church is not stuffy, but can be full of fun, pleasure and laughter.

Quality produce sourced locally is encouraged and fairly traded tea and sugar is urged. As part of Hope 08 the second May bank holiday weekend will be the first, perhaps of many such occasions.

A former Bishop of Crediton recalls fondly the wonderful pudding he received at Huntshaw church in North Devon one Sunday lunchtime: ‘…my bowl of apple pie was handed to me heaving with custard, clotted cream and double cream on top! I

had to have a lie down before the evening confirmation service’. The food may be just one part of more adventurous activities during which praise of a generous creator God may feature. The Teas may be served at some surprising locations which will be a good way for the church to get out of the church and into the community.

To find out more details, contact the Diocesan website at or 

highlight the needs and

contribution of the rural churches. •••• •

Another awakening in the Church of Scotland is in the mission and ministry to visitors. A recent survey of all congregations evoked over 300 responses identifying the need for sufficient volunteers to enable an active ‘open church’ approach, publicity and marketing, the potential for ecumenical cooperation and area trails and national and international links.

It is planned to forge better links with the Scotland’s Churches Scheme which promotes open churches, developing a programme for recognising and supporting volunteer guides. A small grant scheme is in place to help with local initiatives. It is hoped to make full use of forthcoming events such as the centenary of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh and the 450th anniversary Scottish Reformation in 2010.

The Scottish Government has declared 2009 a Year of

Homecoming. This will draw many visitors from all over the world and the churches must be ready to receive them with hospitality. 

Donald Smith

Secretary of the Church Visitor and Tourism Strategy Group.



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