The churches of the Avery Baptist Association (ABA) have covenanted with a local congregation in Scotland for a five-year ministry partnership. The Scotland Partnership is an opportunity for the churches of the Avery Association to develop a Kingdom partnership with Buckhaven Community Church (BCC).
“Scottish roots run deep in western North Carolina,” said Garland Honeycutt, associational missionary for the ABA. “Many families in our region can trace their heritage back to the land of kilts and bagpipes. The very geography of the High Country closely resembles that of Scotland, which more than likely explains why Scottish immigrants settled in the area, so many years ago.
“However, there is a major difference between the hills of Scotland and the mountains of Appalachia – Scotland is largely absent of the presence of the gospel,” he said.
Only about 3 percent of Scots identify as evangelical Christians. The population of Buckhaven in Fife, a small fishing town north of Edinburgh, is 6,000 people; however 98 percent of them have no contact with a local church.
“By collaborating with Peter Carr and BCC, our desire for this partnership is to impact Scotland with the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ,” Honeycutt explained.
Peter Carr, a native Scot, planted BCC in January 2015. “While the church scene in Scotland has become largely dysfunctional, it’s not all doom and gloom. For many decades our country has been a sending nation, but now we are a receiving nation when it comes to missionaries, he said.
Carr went on to say “Scotland, I believe, is now ripe and ready for new expressions of gospel-centered, Kingdom-focused churches.”
ABA’s Scotland Partnership focuses on two primary goals: first, strengthening BCC to become a healthy, self-sustaining church and second, assisting BCC in the planting of new, self-sustaining, evangelical churches across Scotland. These goals hope to be reached within the scope of the five year partnership.
“We plan to take associational mission trips to Scotland at least once each year. Mission trips will provide ABA churches the opportunity to physically come alongside the ministry of BCC through evangelism and outreach, leadership development, and church planting,” Honeycutt explained. “While the ABA and its churches will be the ‘sponsors’ of the partnership, we heartily extend an invitation to churches and individuals outside of the ABA to join us in this exciting gospel effort!”
Support has already been enlisted from churches outside the ABA, including churches from Mitchell County and Carter County, Tennessee.
The ABA approved moving forward with the partnership at its associational spring meeting in April. Under the direction of the newly formed Scotland Partnership Committee, a detailed proposal for the partnership will be presented to the churches of the ABA at its annual meeting in October 2016. Once the proposal is approved at the October meeting, the partnership will officially launch in January 2017.
Honeycutt and other leaders from ABA will be taking a five day vision trip to Scotland to meet with Peter Carr in mid-May. A full program has been planned, which includes several days of prayer walking through Buckhaven and other villages in the Fife region, as well as attending a pastors’ conference in Kirkcaldy to dialogue with ministry leaders from across the nation.
“We are very excited about the opportunities ahead of us,” Honeycutt remarked. “As an associational missionary I believe God’s people are at their best when they work together. Avery Baptists are lifting our eyes beyond our region, to work alongside our sisters and brothers across the pond, by impacting an unbelieving generation of Scots with the transforming message of the gospel.”
To receive more information on the partnership or to explore ways to join the effort, go to averybaptists.org/scotland.