Many parts of the Church in Western Europe are in decline and nowhere is this decline sharper than in the poorest communities. In this area of work, the Priority Areas Committee support a range of activities which are designed to help local Christians and congregations to share the Gospel in more appropriate and inspirational ways, resulting in growth and deepening of faith.
Priority Areas Academy - Our New Learning Programme
We're excited to be launching our new learning programme based on our experience and our practice. We have taken our time over the last few months to talk to as many Priority Area communities as possible, to find out more about the kinds of learning opportunities that people are seeking.
From these conversations, and our BIG Conversation in November, we have listened to what people have told us. Our new learning programme is in direct response to the needs we have heard so far.
The programme is aimed at people within Priority Areas who are intentional about working with their communities to challenge the causes and tackle the effects of poverty. It is open to local people, ministers, Ministries Development Staff, locally employed staff and volunteers; ministry teams who are working in our communities.
And, can be viewed here.
The majority of the events on the programme are open events, and free of charge to Priority Area congregations.
Chance to Thrive
Chance to Thrive is a Church of Scotland partnership regeneration programme. Watch the beginnings of Chance to Thrive in 2013 unfold here.
General Trustees, in partnership with Priority Areas, have also produced 'Letting it happen!', a handbook for priority area parishes (and the wider church) to help them manage and develop the use of their buildings.
A summary report of the continuing journey with Chance to Thrive can be read here.
Read our briefing and find out more, here!
Together for a Change
Together for a Change offers Priority Area Congregations the opportunity to go on exchange visits to World Mission Partner Churches. This is a chance to take part in a body of work which has consistently produced incredible transformation in the individuals who have taken part. The process of planning a visit to another part of the world, building relationships with those you encounter there, the contrast and similarities between what you see on the journey and your own context all contribute to an incredibly profound experience. This initial experience leads to deep reflection and in turn to transformation and response in the form of new activities, learning, insights and community.
In 2017 we gathered together a group of people who were interested in this work to review the last 15 years of experience from this programme and reshape for the future. Amongst other things we revisited the aims and settled on 5 new outcomes for this work:
- Going beyond the edges of our own experiences to find transformation.
- Empowering individuals through challenging experiences and new connections.
- Building relationships for the transformation of community and growing resilience through shared experience.
- Experiencing life in another culture to enable participants to tell a body of new stories about themselves and the world.
- Exploring the roots of poverty within two cultures to enable change.
If you would like to apply to take part in this work, please download the application form and guidance notes below. Feel free to get in touch with John Finch for an initial chat, if that would be helpful.
For 2017 we have three grants of up to £10,000 available to successful applicants.
The deadline for applications is 22nd September 2017.
Young Adult Volunteer Programme
This partnership programme with the Presbyterian Church (USA) helps our Priority Area congregations deliver and develop projects and services with local people. We are currently in our third year of the programme. Four young American volunteers are in placements in Larkhall: Chalmers, Queens Park Govanhill, Cranhill and St James' Pollok.
Priority Areas Holiday
For the past number of years, Priority Areas has hosted a holiday for families from some of Scotland's poorest communities who would not normally be able to afford a break. The holiday gives families the opportunity to relax and enjoy quality time together, to have fun away from their daily struggles with others who understand their situation. We've taken families to Iona and latterly to Gartmore House, Aberfoyle.