Moderator leads torchlight procession at the Mod

Moderator leads torchlight procession at Mod
Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison said the Church of Scotland will hold a Gaelic language training conference for ministers next year.

It was a whirlwind weekend of torchlit processions, lifeboat rescues, big announcements and piping prize givings as the Moderator launched this year's world-famous Royal National Mod – though there was just time for a stroll with Ginger, the Gaelic hearing dog.

Torch in hand, the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison, led the Friday evening march along Oban's main street to officially kick off the annual week-long celebration of Gaelic culture at the Corran Halls. And he used his opening address to announce the Church of Scotland's plans to hold a Gaelic language training conference for ministers next year.

"It was received in a very positive way," he said. "People were delighted to hear about it and are looking forward to knowing more about its development. "

The training conference, which will be funded by £15,000 from the Ministries Council, was, he said, a clear indication of the value and importance the Church attaches to Gaelic and its desire to see the language develop.

"It was a pleasure to be able to make the announcement. The training event will aim to encourage and equip ministers and other worship leaders in the use of Gaelic.

"While the use of Gaelic remains a fragile one in today's society, efforts are now being made in the churches, as elsewhere, to give it the support it merits."

He added: "It was such a pleasure and a privilege to be invited to open the Mod, especially as it was in my home town of Oban. The torchlit march was a wonderful way to start things, it was very celebratory."

Organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, one of the oldest and most respected national Gaelic organisations, The Mòd is the most important festival of the Gaelic language in Scotland and attracts thousands of competitors and spectators from Scotland, the UK and around the world for the nine days it lasts.

Saturday saw Dr Morrison give out prizes at a piping competition, but also take to the water with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

"It was an excellent experience being involved with an RNLI exercise and to be able to show the Church's support for an invaluable emergency service. It is an organisation that is particularly close to my heart too as many of my forebears were sailors and my father helped to rescue stricken ships during World War II."

And on Sunday he visited a new community walled garden in the Glencruitten Estate created by H2O (Hope 2 Oban) a Christian youth charity and its gardening arm, Green Shoots.

"The project has benefits for the whole community and brings people together to learn new skills or just to enjoy being outdoors," he said. "We had a wonderful walk around – one in English, the other in Gaelic and Ginger the Gaelic hearing dog was with us too."

Ginger, a cocker spaniel, found fame last month when his profoundly deaf owner Neil Smith revealed he'd been attending Gaelic language classes in Strone Church of Scotland near Dunoon in Argyll.

Dr Morrison added: "It was a super weekend and of course I felt very much at home among the Gaels."