St Columba’s Lecture – 2012

St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Somerset Road, Cape Town.

Friday, 7 September, 2012

10:30am for 11:00am

Entrance: Free


Rev Dr Dane Sherrard

Please join us for this free public lecture – Rev. Dr. Dane Sherrard promises to be an engaging and exciting speaker, and his experiences provide many useful points of reference for South Africa today!

Dane Sherrard has been a minister of the Church of Scotland for forty years.  He was educated at St. Andrews and at Edinburgh Universities in Scotland and later completed a Doctor of Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. His first charge was as Church of Scotland minister of Northern Italy, working with seafarers in the five northern Italian Mediterranean ports and with a considerable ex-patriot community based in Genova. Six years in Italy was followed by eighteen in the small Fife town of Buckhaven, serving a community in which almost everyone had been made unemployed by the closure of the local coal mines.  The Buckhaven Parish Church Agency was founded by Dane as an employment training programme in the depths of the industrial retrenchment that was 1980’s Britain.  Ex mining communities like Buckhaven were hit particularly hard. Using government funds, Dane single-handedly created an agency which at its height trained 3000 young adults in  jobs skills. It employed 100 hundred tradesmen to do this. It owned 22 buildings and had a budget of £5,000,000.

Dane went on to have a successful ministry at Cadder parish church in Glasgow. A large suburban church with a congregation of 1500 and an income of over £200,000.

Many were surprised when he left Glasgow for the small linked rural parishes of Arrochar and Luss, but this has turned out to be his most innovative and creative ministry yet. Arrochar church was derelict and had a congregation of 12 when Dane arrived – they met in the Session room as the church was to be torn down. Dane energised the entire village community, restored the church building and has turned the fortunes of the church around. A congregation of  more than 100 now meets there regularly (Arrochar is a very small village and so 100 is a good number of people). The story of what Dane did there has been recounted in a chapter in a  book entitled BACK FROM THE BRINK by Heather and Pat Wraight (this book recounts stories of churches which were dead and gone, but which have been brought back from the brink).

However, the work at Arrochar was only a prelude to the work that work is doing now in Luss. Here Dane has the opportunity to witness to the 750,000 people a year who pass through Luss and he has created an inspirational ‘Welcoming The Stranger’ programme teaches pilgrimage and spirituality in the contemporary world. Dane’s work in this small village has been recognised in the fact that he has been invited to an international United Nations sponsored conference in Assisi to develop the Green Cities Pilgrimage Network – A New Global Network of Green Pilgrim Cities of All Faiths. Dane was invited even though he pointed out that Luss was no city – but they wanted him on board. Luss parish church was the only congregation from the Church of Scotland that was invited to participate.

In addition to this work Dane has developed an International youth exchange programme welcoming young people from all over Europe to spend a part of their summer in Luss working on the globe pilgrimage pathway and learning about the church, spirituality and prayer. The church service at Luss is broadcast over the internet and attracts literally thousands of viewers. Through his extensive digital communications programme he is able to maintain and foster links with the considerable number of people who come to Luss seeking weddings and baptisms.

Peter McEnhill (author of 50 Key Christian Thinkers) says of Dane Sherrard:

“Quite simply, I think he is perhaps the most innovative and creative minister of his generation.”

(adapted from promotional material)

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