17th AUGUST 2024


The Gathering is the annual conference of the United free Church of Scotland



The Gathering” is an annual get-together run by the United Free Church of Scotland, and everyone’s invited.

We are an evangelical denomination who believes God’s Word is true and that Jesus is sufficient for all our needs. Through “The Gathering” we want as many people as possible to be encouraged by good Bible teaching, equipped through stimulating workshops and to experience the joy of fellowshipping together as brothers and sisters united in Christ.

Once a year in August we gather for a whole day of Bible teaching and workshops, but there’s also lots of time for tea and coffee, and plenty for under 18’s too – there’s a creche for those 3 and under, a children’s programme for those in primary school and a teen programme for those in secondary. We want to ensure people of all ages get to experience gathering together in ways that work for them and that also enables parents to benefit as well.

Book here to attend The Gathering and Register Your Child for their specific programme

Key Information


There will be a crèche for pre-school children.

It is essential that places are booked in advance to ensure we comply with Safeguarding requirements.


There will be a separate programme for children in P1-P6 although they may join in parts of the main session at the beginning and end of the day. Please book in advance.



School aged children & unwaged young people

Pre-school children


The programme for the day is as follows:

9.45 – 10.30
Registration/Teas and coffees

10.30 – 11.30
Opening session

11.40 – 12.40
Workshops 1 (choice of 9)

12.40 – 13.45

1.45 – 14.45
Workshops 2 (choice of 9)

2.45 – 15.15
Tea Break

3.15 – 15.45
Closing Celebration


The theme this year is: ‘We believe in God – How the Father, Son and Holy Spirit shape our lives and church communities’. 

This year, we are very pleased to be able to welcome Reverend Doctor Sinclair Ferguson to be our main speaker, and leader of one of our workshops. 

Sinclair is a Scottish theologian and well known for his teaching and writing. He has been Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in the United States, commuting between there and St Peter’s Free Church of Scotland in Dundee, where he was assistant minister. He is currently a preaching associate at Trinity Church, Aberdeen.


We believe in God
Sinclair Ferguson 

Sinclair follows on his address to the gathering with a workshop to explore further the themes that he will bring to the Day, especially how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit shape our lives and church communities. This workshop will give practical considerations of our belief in God. In accepting the invitation for the day, Sinclair wrote, “It is many years since I have had any contact with the United Free Church, so I will look forward to the day very much”. 

Worship of God
Heather Holdsworth

Unfiltered worship – finding ways to lament in a church of praise

Heather Holdsworth is a Bible teacher, lecturer, artist and enjoyer of deep conversations over tea with friends. Her focus is on Spiritual Formation and Discipleship for people of all ages

Over half of the songs in the middle of our Bible are written in times of lament.  We meet a worshipper who is shattered by events in his family and community.  Yet most of his songs end in praise and thanksgiving, where God is exalted and all seems well.  Is this a technique to mask over memories and tie sorrows up with a bow?  Are these simply clichés to stop people’s questions and keep God at arm’s length?  In this session we will consider the faith of the worshipper and practical ways to engage with God in the dark.  These ancient poems give clues to brave our own sorrows, and to help others process theirs.

The Work of God in Today’s Scotland
Nigel Kenny

Nigel will explain about the Scottish Government’s proposals to introduce a broadly worded “conversion practices” ban, which will affect the ordinary work of gospel churches. He will also speak about Orkney MSP Liam McArthur’s proposals to introduce an assisted suicide Bill, which would pressurize terminally ill people to take their own lives.

Nigel is the Scotland Officer for The Christian Institute and, prior to that, practised law for twenty years. He is married to Anne and they have two grown up children, Sarah and Scott. They attend Greenview Church, Glasgow, where Nigel is a Trustee. Through his role at the CI, Nigel regularly preaches in churches all over Scotland. 

Seeing God Through Puritan Eyes
Dave Redfern

One of the great aspects of studying church history is the fact that we can delve into the past to learn from the wisdom of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In this session we will explore the theological riches that can be discovered in the Puritans. What were the main focuses of Puritan Spirituality? How did the Puritans view the Christian life? What were the theological questions that captivated them? We will explore some of these questions as we learn from our ancestors in the faith, and apply their wisdom to the time we live in today. 

Dave is married to Michelle and they have three children. Dave and Michelle moved to St Andrews 8 years ago and have been working for Cornerstone and the Chalmers Institute since then. Dave is currently undertaking PhD studies in John Owen’s theology at Aberdeen. 

The Servant King
Mark Stirling.

Mark has a long-term interest in power and leadership in the church. This seminar will explore, first of all, Jesus’ pattern of self-giving in Philippians 2, before applying it to how we understand power and leadership in the contemporary church.

Mark directs the Chalmers Institute which seeks to provide theological resources that serve practical discipleship and mission. He also lectures part-time at Highland Theological College.

Who we are in Christ: Sexuality and Gender Identity
Rob and Gwen Barlow

This workshop is intended to open some discussion and consider the hot cultural topics of sexual identity and gender. This will be a practical session in that we have two individuals whose lives have been personally impacted by these issues, and are willing to share their story with us. Whilst the time will be limited, we do hope to bring something of a Biblical and practical Christian approach to these matters. We also aim to offer some guidance and direction for those wanting to know more on the subject.

Rob and Gwen are well known and regular workshop leaders of the annual gathering. Rob is a recently retired minister of the United Free Church, and the former minister of Carnoustie Church. He and his wife, Gwen, are members of the Planning Group for The Gathering.

We Believe in Creativity: Mission and Worship Through Creative Practice
Fiona Stewart

This workshop will explore how the creative arts can be used in mission and worship. We’ll delve into the account of Bezalel and Oholiab in Exodus 36-39, examine several examples of good creative practice and have an opportunity to flex our own artistic muscles.

Fiona is a writer, performer and broadcaster based in Glasgow. She is the Creative Director of Foolproof Creative Arts, an arts charity she founded in 2010, and a member of Adelaide Place Baptist Church. Fiona is a regular radio and television contributor, podcast host and spoken word artist and is passionate about encouraging Christians to engage with their creativity, and helping people discover Jesus through the arts.  

Jesus and The Questions of the Age
Gavin Matthews

In this interactive seminar, Gavin from Solas, will ask us to think through the changing nature of questions and objections to the gospel in 2024. Drawing on Solas’s own work in evangelism, survey data and academic analysis, we will look at some cultural trends in relation to the gospel – and how the Bible might answer today’s questions. We will have the opportunity to discuss what these biblical principles might look like in our own varied contexts around Scotland.

Gavin is Solas’ Assistant Director (Scotland) and does a wide variety of work for the organisation. He speaks for Solas in churches and at conferences, co-ordinates the website, writes articles and other Solas communications and presents webinars and podcasts. He also loves networking for Solas and speaking with church leaders about Solas’ work. Gavin has been married to Elaine since 1996 and they have three adult children. He has been a member of Perth Baptist Church since 1999.

Book your tickets: