An urgent need to do more to promote Gaelic through the work of the Church of Scotland was identified at a landmark event held in Glasgow last weekend.
The first ever conference exploring how the Church of Scotland can nurture the Gaelic language was described by those attending as a “miracle” and a “milestone” within the Gaelic speaking world.
Rev Hugh Stewart, Minister for Lochs-in-Bernera linked with Uig Church of Scotland, who was one of the keynote speakers said: “There was great encouragement and enthusiasm and a zeal from those present here to do something. They want to implement responses that will ensure the continuance of the proclamation of the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ through the medium of Gaelic.”
Speaking after the conference, Moderator-Designate Rev Dr Angus Morrison, former minister of St Columbas (Old Parish) Church in Stornoway, who pushed for the event to take place, said: “It was a significant moment in the history of Gaelic use and provision in the Church of Scotland. I believe we can only go forward from here.
“The conference was clearly appreciated greatly by those who attended.”
Hosted by well-known Gaelic broadcaster Cathy Macdonald, an audience of over 50 people enjoyed presentations from Margaret Mary Murray, Head of Service at BBC Alba, and the Rev John Urquhart, who has been developing contemporary and traditional Gaelic worship materials in partnership with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye.
They were also joined by Professor Donald Meek who talked about the development of Gaelic resources, Assistant Editor of The Scotsman Donald Walker who looked at the Gaelic print media, and Rev Hugh Stewart who provided a minister’s perspective.
Titled ‘An Ciad Ceum’ (first step) the aim was to identify ways to develop the Gaelic language for future generations.
Some of the ideas discussed included harnessing the power of online resources, conducting a national survey to assess how the Church is equipped to provide Gaelic worship and encouraging presbyteries to include Gaelic provision within their presbytery plan.
The next step is to forge an action plan through the Church of Scotland’s Gaelic Group.