Living with churches in the Borders: mission and ministry in rural Scottish parish churches

Major, Heather Joan (2022) Living with churches in the Borders: mission and ministry in rural Scottish parish churches. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Is there a sustainable future for mission and ministry in rural Scottish parish churches?

In this thesis I use autoethnographic fieldwork within practical theology to understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities facing parish churches in rural contexts in Scotland.

My research investigates the lived realities of two rural parish churches in the Scottish Borders over twenty-seven months of immersive fieldwork. It engages with existing research on rural churches along with broader discussions of congregational studies, church renewal and missiology, recognising the dearth of existing research into rural Presbyterian churches in Scotland. Throughout my thesis I use a combination of ethnographic ‘thick’ description, autoethnographic reflexivity and critical theological reflection to evaluate the sustainability of current models of mission and ministry as a foundation for discussions of possibilities for the future.

My thesis acknowledges the unsustainability of traditional clergy dependent models of rural ministry and argues that a creative and sustainable future is possible if churches are willing to embrace a process of faithful change. I use the Five Marks of Mission as a framework for developing a rural missiology, arguing that rural parish churches have the potential to engage in embodied, creative missional practice as worshiping communities in rural Scotland. I conclude by addressing specific challenges facing the Church of Scotland in 2021, using the lens of rural experience to offer practical insight in looking towards the future.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Gay, Rev. Dr. Doug and Fisk, Dr. Anna
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82766
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2022 10:46
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2022 16:42
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82766

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