Church of Scotland ministerial formation in the Gaidhealtachd
This thesis argues that the processes of ministerial formation, which have become a feature of the world churches, have never been sanctioned by the Church of Scotland in the Gaidhealtachd. However, new developments in the Church of Scotland's programme for the theological education and training of its ministry, and current trends in the Gaidhealtachd combine to create a unique opportunity for the Church of Scotland to adopt a policy supportive of the Gaelic language and culture, and to provide a ministry specifically trained for issues facing the Church's mission in the Gaidhealtachd. Part one of the thesis examines the issues surrounding ministerial formation, i.e. ministry, theological education and training for ministry, and social and cultural context. Ministry is defined and formed in the context where it takes place by a process of praxis. Ministry is also the work of the whole Church, and ministerial formation equips the whole people of God for ministry. Such ministerial formation best takes place in the social and cultural context of that ministry. Part two examines the social and cultural setting of the Gaidhealtachd. The Gaidhealtachd represents a distinctive social and cultural unit because of its unique combination of social geography, language, custom and religion. There has never been an official Church policy for ministry and mission which takes into account its distinctive social and cultural needs, and the area has suffered because of the lack of such a policy. Part three addresses certain features of the Gaidhealtachd which have maintained the status quo. It also looks at the pastoral issue of loss and change as applied to the Gaidhealtachd. The final part examines the present situation in the Gaidhealtachd, and the ways in which a new programme for ministerial formation in the Church of Scotland might respond to present opportunities in the Gaidhealtachd.