Our programmes

A Big Conversation meeting for the Learning Programme.

Parishes designated as Priority Areas or that appear on the Supplementary List have access to programmes that can help identify the causes and tackle the effects of poverty.

Our goal with these programmes is to support and empower local people who are working to mitigate the effects of poverty, deprivation and isolation in their communities. We are committed to creating a Church in Priority Areas which:

  • Is indivisible from its community, working with local people
  • Sees local people as gifted, creative, resilient leaders
  • Reaches out and stands with people in their most difficult situations
  • Uses all ways possible to live the Gospel
  • Seeks to be a family of church communities and encompasses the widest range of theology
  • Is intolerant of and becomes prophetic about injustice

Below you'll find information about our core programmes. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact the Priority Areas team.

Priority Areas Programmes

The programmes listed below are delivered by the Church of Scotland's Priority Areas team.

Learning Programme

Working with a range of partners, we offer a series of talks, workshops and events aimed at people in Priority Areas who wish to work to transform and positively impact their communities. These events are open to local people, ministers, Ministries Development staff, locally employed staff and volunteers, and ministry teams who are working in our communities.

Alongside our ongoing programmes, we run regular webinars and other training opportunities. Some of these are open to anyone who's interested, but please note that priority will be given to attendees from our Priority Areas. More information can be found in the Events section.

Asset-based community development

For a number of years we have been digging into the benefits of asset-based work. At its core, asset-based work is about tapping into all of the potential that exists all around us, connecting people and assets towards a greater level of flourishing in the communities we serve.

For many people working in a priority area context this gives a language to and affirms practise that they have intuitively developed as they have gained experience. But even for these people this journey has created many opportunities to level up and refine that practise.

The theory and practise of asset-based work is so fundamentally core to how we want to work in priority areas that we are developing deeper offerings, travelling for a longer time together and all the time growing in number. If you want to know more about what is involved and how to join up, contact John Finch.

Learning community

In Partnership with Cairn

This year we finish our second full cohort of Learning Community. This journey takes us straight to the heart of managing change in church. By looking at discipleship, leadership, mission and collaboration, with teaching and facilitation, this process helps congregations audit and adjust their activities to become more effective, sustainable and missional.

At the core of this offering is a process which helps you and your team engage with all of the teaching in depth and apply it to your own context. None of this is out-of-the-box ministry - it is all about taking important principles and translating them for your situation and circumstances.

No two congregations come out of the process the same, all of it is bespoke. We have not encountered a better process for managing change, and the feedback we get from participants suggest that they haven't either. If you would like more information about taking part in a future cohort, get in touch with John Finch.

Learning grants

2022 sees the return of our Learning Grants programme.

We recognise that occasionally opportunities come along that require resources to access. This is where these grants come in. Each year we have a limited number of £500 grants to make to Priority Areas parishes. The grant can be used to access any learning opportunity which you think would be beneficial to the work you are engaged with in a local context.

A full application form and conditions of grants are available on request. Your first step is to get in touch with John Finch.

These grants are limited: we have a finite amount of money to distribute each year, and we really want to make sure that it is having the greatest impact possible. So we ask congregations that have received a grant in recent years not to reapply for at least three years.

Building worship teams

This course aims to build the confidence and ability of people from congregations to plan and lead worship together. It’s about enabling congregations to shape worship that is contextual, participative and sustainable.

The course will be run by Iain McLarty (Priority Areas Worship Development Worker) and Jo Love (Wild Goose Resource Group). It will be useful for congregations who are starting to build a worship team for the first time or it can be an opportunity for growth for existing teams.

We are asking for a minimum of three people to take part from each congregation or parish grouping. They should be able to explore their local context together and be involved in leading worship locally together between training days.

We would encourage those in worship leadership roles (such as ministers, musicians etc.) to be a full part of the team during the training but it is also possible for teams in congregations without a minister to take part as long as there is support from the Interim Moderator and a plan for how the team can be involved in leading services.

The first cohort of this piece has already started, but other cohorts will come. If you would like to know more or note interest please get in touch with Iain McLarty.

Discover ABCD

Monthly calls commencing 1 September.

Priority Areas have teamed up with Cormac Russell to offer your community a chance to really invest in asset-based practice in your context. Every month we share an online call with Cormac, with assignments and reading in between.

In September we start a new intake for this journey - we'll run from September through to June with breaks for Christmas and Easter.

One of the really important aspects of this work is that we are only inviting teams rather than individuals. What we have learned is that where a few people together engage with this work the impact is more than the sum of its parts. So grab some friends and come along. This is introductory work, so all you need is a passion for your local area and a desire to see some things happen! There is a chance to hear from previous participants and find out more about this journey in the Join In! series.

If you have any other questionsplease get in touch with John Finch.

Learning community

This begins as a two-year process helping you engage with discipleship, leadership, mission and collaboration. It is one of the best change-management processes we have encountered and we are really enjoying sharing it with others. There is a an opportunity to hear a little more about it in the Join In! event on 20 May.

If you would like to take part in a future cohort and have a team who would like to join in, then please email John Finch.

The Big Conversation and Wee Conversations

The Big Conversation, our annual conference, gives Priority Areas congregations a chance to network, share learning and give direction to the Priority Areas Committee.

We also host weekly Wee Conversations via Zoom, where Priority Areas congregations can gather for support and to share knowledge and ideas.

Challenge Poverty Week

Each October we participate in and promote Challenge Poverty Week, a Poverty Alliance-led campaign to end poverty. With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) being held in Glasgow in 2021, the focus of our Challenge Poverty Week content was themed around poverty and climate change. We highlighted that those already in poverty faced the greatest impact from climate change, although they contributed the least to bringing it about, and that we must respond in a way which doesn't push people further into poverty.

Through short videos we highlight projects in Priority Areas which are tackling climate change at a local level. We also ran four weekly webinars throughout October, focusing on making the links between poverty and climate change and theming worship around this, as well as the contribution of local food projects and how our buildings link to climate change.

Chance to Thrive

Chance to Thrive is a programme that offers local churches long-term accompanied mentor support. This helps them develop their work and partnerships within local communities and make their church buildings and facilities available for community benefit.

Young people enjoying the Young Adult Volunteer Programme.

Chance to Thrive focuses on challenging and transforming poverty, deprivation, and isolation and their impacts. We seek to do this by recognising and celebrating the good things in a congregation and its surrounding community and helping the people living there expand and build on these things.

Young Adult Volunteers Programme

This programme gives Priority Areas congregations the opportunity to host a Young Adult volunteer on work placement for a year of service and learning. Volunteers provide practical assistance to church and community activities as well as bringing cross-cultural enrichment to the communities where they serve.