In a Big Country Rural Conference

The purpose of In a Big Country is to inform, stimulate and encourage ministry in rural areas.

The purpose of the In a Big Country rural conference is to inform, stimulate and encourage ministry in rural areas.  All these boxes and more were ticked at the recent In a Big Country held in Dingwall Free Church on Saturday 20th April. People gathered from as far away as Aberdeenshire, Lochaber and Skye to hear two stimulating talks and take part in four engaging seminars.

Rev Peter Turnbull turned our attention to the significance of place. Key points were that there was no hierarchy of place in terms of gospel importance. It was pointed out that Jesus’ ministry was largely rural. Peter’s own story of being called from a large urban resource church to serve a small church in Moray was inspirational.

Rev Ivor MacDonald is minister at Hope Church, Coatbridge but also maintains a croft on the Isle of Skye.  We heard a fascinating talk reflecting on a recent visit to rural congregations in Mississippi. Ivor used the example of Dollar General, an American chain of discount stores who intentionally plant in rural areas.  If the world has such a vision then why can’t the Church?

In the seminars Beth Rose, a Strathnairn crofter, told the story of how she and her husband Tim made a lifestyle choice of rural living.  Beth unpacked the challenges of living in a rural area where there was no healthy gospel church. Susan Maclean, youth worker at Poolewe and Aultbea spoke of her experience in the presbytery of Skye and Wester Ross. Her focus was on developing youth work through shared resources. Rev Jerry Taylor from Thurso and the North Coast spoke about gospel ambition.  He shared something of the growth in Bettyhill.

Rev David Meredith asked the question, ‘Where do you begin?’. He tackled the issues of inertia and lack of realism as being two significant inhibitors in beginning a process of rural revitalisation.

Like all conferences there was additional value in people simply meeting with each other.  New friends were made, contact details were exchanged as people shared their common experiences both challenges and victories.

There had been thought of closing down In A Big Country but the strong sense is that it has many miles to go.

We look forward to next year.