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Mission Pioneers spreading the Good News in Scotland

by Donna Birrell

New ways of engaging people with faith are being pioneered by the Church of Scotland in Ayrshire. 

It's sending teams of missioners out into the community to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to build new worshipping communities.

Team leader, Reverend Maggie McTernan, describes the programme as bold and exciting. She tells Premier the aim is to connect with people who don't want to worship in traditional ways: 

"There's a challenge of declining attendance at our traditional churches on Sunday mornings. But that doesn't necessarily match with a decline in interest in matters of faith. There are people who have an interest and a concern about faith. But for a whole host of reasons, won't go to church on a Sunday morning, maybe it's not what they're used to or maybe they have other commitments. "

The team invited congregations themselves to come up with new ideas of engaging people.
And as a result, the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock has formed six Pioneer Initiative Teams, four of which are connected to parish churches and two which will operate across the presbytery area, in a variety of contexts.

The vision is for an intergenerational church where people of all ages will be brought together to share activities, experiences and worship in a new and dynamic way.

The pioneers will work in partnership with the parish churches with the aim of establishing a witnessing and worshipping community in every locality in the presbytery in the next 10 years.
Plans include Messy Church, prayer walks and a sports-based wellbeing project. 

Rev McTernan says another is looking at engaging more with people in their twenties, thirties and forties " the kind of middle life age where they've maybe drifted away from church."

There are also plans to establish a completely online, digital parish and a disability project which will encourage the church to be fully inclusive. 

Rev McTernan, said: "The new pioneer initiatives are working to establish worshipping communities that will come together in new ways, to share God's love with those who have no church connection."

The programme is supported by a special presbytery fund and is a response to a 2018 General Assembly instruction for the Church to meet the needs of areas for which they have a spiritual responsibility and make best use of available resources.

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