Training conference for Gaelic speaking preachers to be staged

The Church of Scotland has announced plans to hold a Gaelic language training conference for ministers next year.

Moderator of the General Assembly the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison said it was important to ensure that they were properly equipped to conduct congregational worship in a modern and easily accessible way.

He added that the move was a clear indication of the value and importance that the Church of Scotland attached to Gaelic and its desire to see the language developed and encouraged.

The Ministries Council of the Church Scotland has allocated £15,000 to stage the conference which will be held during the first quarter of 2016 and is seeking financial contributions from other relevant organisations.

It follows a successful Gaelic conference, titled An Ciad Ceum, in Glasgow in March.

Dr Morrison will make the announcement tonight at the Corran Halls in Oban when he officially opens the Royal National Mod – a world famous annual celebration of Gaelic music and culture.

Reflecting on the outcome of the conference held earlier this year, he will say: "Among the urgent priorities we identified was the need to support ministers and other worship leaders in conducting worship in congregations.

"I am very pleased to be able to announce that as a second step, a training event for leaders of worship, supported by the Ministries' Council of the Church of Scotland, is currently being arranged.

"The date and venue will shortly be widely intimated. It promises to be a most interesting and fruitful occasion."

Dr Morrison, who grew up in Oban, said it was important that Gaelic services were delivered in an easily assessable way.

"There is tendency to use a higher register of Gaelic and people could perhaps use some help in using simple, straight forward Gaelic to communicate the message of God," he added.

"We also need to think about what pupils going through Gaelic medium education in primary schools would appreciate.

"With the numbers of new learners of Gaelic there is a great need to deliver worship in a modern form."

Dr Morrison said the wider Gaelic community would be very encouraged to hear a conference was being organised because it recognised that the language was a rich part of Scotland's heritage.

Gaelic speaker the Rev Hugh Maurice Stewart, minister of the Lochs-in-Bernera congregation linked with Uig, said: "This is welcome news building as it does upon the highly successful 'An Ciad Ceum' ministerial and worship conference held earlier year.

"Such conferences for Gaelic ministry and worship are an essential first step if the proclamation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through the medium of Gaelic is to continue and be renewed within the national Church of Scotland'.

"The conference will explore traditional and innovative, contemporary forms of Gaelic Christian preaching and worship delivered by acknowledged and widely respected scholars alongside contemporary ministerial practitioners.

"The use of multi-media technologies in the dissemination of Jesus' gospel through the medium of Gaelic will also be investigated. Along with an appreciation of the richness of the linguistic, cultural and spiritual facets of Gaelic Christian poetry of the past & present for today's Scotland."

Dr Morrison said he was "deeply honoured" to have been asked to formally open the Mod.

"It was in this town, in Oban High School, that I found a love for the language and literature of our Gaelic inheritance," he added.

John Morrison, chief Executive of Mod organisers, An Comunn Gàidhealach, said he and his team were "thrilled" that Dr Morrison had agreed to formally open the event.

"Who better to welcome the Mòd back to Oban than a man with such strong ties to the town and surrounding areas," he added.

"Anticipation for the Mòd itself is gearing up and we are looking forward to enjoying a fantastic nine days of competition and special events throughout Oban and Argyll."

Organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, one of the oldest and most respected national Gaelic organisation, The Mòd is the most important festival of the Gaelic language in Scotland.

Thousands of competitors and spectators from throughout Scotland, the UK and from all corners of the globe including USA, Australia and Holland will descend on Oban to take part and watch over 200 competitions in Highland Dancing, Gaelic Music and Song, Sport, Literature and Drama.

The Fringe will run alongside the contests and has a packed programme of concerts, music sessions, poetry, dance and other art forms of every description.