In December 2017 I was invited to share the vision of Sanctuary First with Argyll Presbytery. The weather turned out to be better than I imagined but I was glad of the company of my brother-in-law, to share the driving as we headed up and across to Tighnabbruaich.
We arrived in good time and received a warm welcome. I shared the vision of Sanctuary First and how we believe we can connect with rural communities through the use of the film technology and the internet.
I was especially keen to speak about the tourist industry and how Christian rural worshipping communities should exploit the beauty of their surroundings to help communicate the Gospel.
The real jewel, which we do not exploit, is the beauty of the countryside. We need to develop creative ways to use this backdrop to talk about the mystery and love of God. It turned out that a number of people caught the vision and could see how streaming short talks about faith using breath-taking scenery as a background could be popular and interesting for viewers all over the world.
As I was leaving I was introduced to Kenny Wilson the youth worker for Argyll Presbytery. He told me about the Columba Experience. This was a project being promoted by the Presbytery to open up an ancient pilgrim route from Tarbert to Oban which would in turn would link into the more established pilgrim route from Oban to Iona. Now admittedly many of the ancient monks would have used sea coracles, however no doubt a walking path may well have been in existence hundreds of years ago.
I thought this would be a glorious opportunity to showcase the idea that faith and countryside go together. I was also intrigued with the idea because it reminded me of the very first sermon I preached in St Andrew’s Bo’ness as sole nominee the text was:
This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6: 16)
So on Sunday 24th June a Sanctuary First team, headed for Port Ban Caravan site where we would meet the pilgrims and begin filming the journey of ten people who were prepared to walk the 100 mile route and at the same time use this as an opportunity to explore their own faith in a deeper way. Here, then, is the documentary that Sanctuary First made to help promote.
Faith in the countryside, we are indebted to Kenny Wilson and his team who allowed our cameraman Jack Steel to follow them for some of the way and tease out the unique experience of pilgrimage in Scotland.
I hope as the documentary is viewed hopefully by many people the Presbytery of Argyll will be encouraged to see that the time they took to be involved in a Presbytery Review, which include Sanctuary First has resulted in a quite beautiful little documentary that can now be used this year to promote the Columba Experience 2019.