Re-imagining ChurchAs part of our desire at Sanctuary First, to contribute to the future shape and mission of the church. Sanctuary First is hosting a conference at Tulliallan Police College to seek to inspire ministers and congregations to begin to re-think how church might be in the future. The Conference will be from 11-13 January 2019.

Our aim is to inspire the Church to look again at the Church Without Walls Report and see the timeless themes that continue to be relevant to us as a church. Working from our strengths we are asking; How can these themes be best communicated in an age of social media and advancing technology?

Can we have the courage to Re-Imagine Church for 21st century?

How can Sanctuary First as an online church be used to keep alive the faith of literally thousands who no longer attend conventional church?

How can we also be a collaborative partner in helping a new kind of church emerge that takes notice of the changing culture that has been brought about by the communication revolution of the past twenty years?

What does it mean today to be a Church Shaped by the Gospel, Shaped by our Locale, Shaped by the Gifts of God’s People and Shaped by Friendship?

Contributor Summary

We’re delighted that Professor Len Sweet will join us by a live link from New York State. Professor Sweet was with us in 2005 when we had the Stakeholders Conference in the Edinburgh

Dr Pete Phllips from Durham University is a key influencer in the Church of England’s communication strategy, and we're thrilled that he will be able to join us at the conference.

The conference will also feature contributions from Scotland:

  • Russell McLarty will engage with a workshop using story-telling as a tool to help us Re-Imagine Church
  • Fullarton Connextions in Irvine is a Church of Scotland who have re-imagined their role in their Parish.
  • Liz Crumlish from Pathways to Renewal
  • Peter Neilson on Shaped by the Gospel
  • Sanctuary First will also seek to be building partnerships across the church and show how we see the future of online church connecting with local parish communities re-connecting many of the disconnected.

We will be announcing additional key speakers. This will be an important conference, one which we believe will enable congregations to network and encounter some of the key leaders in the Church of Scotland who are re-imagining church in their local parishes. The main success of the conference will be if we can fill the two hundred places with leaders who are hungry to share their desire for change. So time will be left for genuine networking and ministry exchange.

Book online now



Provisional Programme



Prof Len Sweet

Prof Len Sweet

Professor of Evangelism

Leonard Sweet with his knowledge of the trends of history as they effect church life will help us unpack the journey that a book-based church culture has to make in order to communicate to the Google generation. Len is a scholar of popular culture and media ethics: a semiotician who “sees things the rest of us don’t see and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imaginings.” He is also a best selling author having penned over fifty books and published over 200 articles. He has been voted by his peers as among the foremost Christian thinkers in America.

Peter Phillips

Dr Pete Phillips

Director, CODEC Research Centre

Pete has many years experience of teaching/researching the New Testament, and now explores the interface between all things digital and theological. During his time at CODEC, Pete has pioneered new ways of exploring theology among the Digital Humanities and also developed the world's first MA in Digital Theology, hosted within Cranmer Hall's suite of MA programmes. Pete loves playing with tech, hacking new data, developing new opportunities for research. A lot of Pete’s work takes him outside of Durham – working with the Church of England’s Digital Team.

Peter Neilsom

Rev Peter Neilson

Minister (retired)

Rev Peter Neilson retired from his role as a freelance mission consultant after 40 years of ministry within the Church of Scotland but continues to serve St Andrew’s presbytery as a locum minister. He has had a range of roles from parish ministry in Glasgow and Edinburgh to national roles in mission. We are delighted that he will be contributing to our conference inviting us to re-imagine what it means when we talk about a Church shaped by the Gospel. Peter will be sharing with us thanks to the wonders of technology.

Albert Bogle

Very Rev Albert Bogle

Minister, Sanctuary First

Albert describes the Sanctuary First vision as the catalyst that inspires christians to re-imagine the internet as the open door which creates possibilities to re-think church for every generation. Appointed in April 2016 as minister of Sanctuary First (a pioneering ministry being developed by Falkirk Presbytery), he develops the aspiration that Sanctuary First will become a worshipping congregation of the Church of Scotland on the internet. As leader of Sanctuary First he is keen to develop partnerships with congregations to inspire them to see the potential of the internet as a communication tool.

Maggie Lane

Rev Maggie Lane

Minister, Kirkliston Parish Church

Maggie Lane has been the Parish Minister In Kirkliston for the past ten years. Before entering the ministry she had a successful business career in the catering industry. She studied theology at Edinburgh University before completing her training for the ministry working at St Andrew’s Bo’ness. Maggie is also a trained counsellor and brings a great deal of experience to the topic 'Unlocking the Gifts of God’s people'.

Gordon Kennedy

Rev Gordon Kennedy

Minister, Craiglockhart Parish Church

Gordon was a member of the Special Commission which produced the Church Without Walls Report in 2001. Before being called to ministry he worked as a civil engineer with Strathclyde Regional Council. Gordon has served in the parishes of New Cumnock, Portpatrick and St Ninians (Stranraer) and is presently at Craiglockhart in Edinburgh. Gordon has an ongoing interest in making connections with theology and missional practice. In his seminar Gordon hopes to be asking the question ‘How do we re-imagine a church without walls?'

Liz Crumlish

Rev Liz Crumlish

Path of Renewal Pilot Project

Liz Crumlish has been a Church of Scotland minister for over 20 years and is currently leading and facilitating a Pilot Project: Path of Renewal, coaching and mentoring ministers and congregations through cultural change. Liz hopes to bring some of her colleagues who are part of the Renewal Programme to share their experiences.

Jim Stewart

Rev Jim Stewart

Minister, St Mark's, Letham

Jim is currently minister of St Mark’s Church of Scotland, Letham. Before training for ministry Jim worked in the meat industry, and in the civil service. Jim has been involved in a number of high profile roles within the church, including part-time Evangelist for the Church of Scotland and Moderator of Perth Presbytery. He has special interests in bereavement care, mental health issues and chaplaincy to schools including special needs children. He has served on two Special Commissions of the General Assembly of the Church. We are delighted that Jim will be co-presenting the conference.

Russell McLarty

Rev Russell McLarty

Transition Minister

For 21 years Russell was Parish Minister in one of Glasgow’s most disadvantaged communities. He was coordinator of Chance to Thrive, a 5-year pilot project of The Church of Scotland providing volunteer mentor support to 8 congregations in some of Scotland’s poorest communities to help develop local people’s ideas for regeneration. As a storyteller and part of the Scottish Storytelling Forum, Russell is interested in the stories people tell about themselves and the power of new and positive stories in community life. Russell will invite members of the conference to join with him in helping to re-imagine church as it can be in the future starting from where we are now.