Our aim is to reach towards something of the integration of thought and emotion, head and heart, spirituality and theology.
The Abbey Summer School, begun in 2014 in and for Scotland, offers Christian teaching and nourishment to all who like to think about their faith. The ‘abbey’ in our name is an important indication of our ethos: we gather in a particular place, and are attentive to that place. We do so to seek God together in community, even if only for a brief time. We want to be attentive to both heart and mind. Our participation depends on a journey we have each undertaken – a pilgrimage that is both a lifelong journey as well as a more limited and recent relocation. All of this takes on substance not only in eating, learning, and praying together on site, but in a mini-pilgrimage that we build into the Summer School – often to an actual abbey.
The ‘place’ in which we gather is always Scotland, and hitherto always Edinburgh. We hold Scotland close to our hearts, looking to strengthen her people’s faith in the midst of difficult times as we gather to worship the Triune God, to hear his word to us, and to be transformed. Scotland has been a land of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, deeply marked by its wisdom and power, for generations – a land shaped very much for the better by Christian faith, which first brought to it such benefits as high-quality education for both rich and poor, and a land that has sent out many to proclaim that faith in other parts of the world (most famously, David Livingstone). We hope to play our small part in making Scotland a land of the Gospel once again. Like all true abbeys, however, ours is a hospitable place. Built in Scotland, it is welcoming to pilgrims from all over the world. Founded with Scots primarily in mind, it opens its doors to all God’s people – all who want to gather to think in fresh ways about their faith and what it means for their lives.
What kind of event is The Abbey Summer School, then? It is something between a conference and a festival (with a little bit of think-tank thrown in). Our aim is to reach towards something of the integration of thought and emotion, head and heart, spirituality and theology, as found in monastic abbeys before the split into abbey and university – back in the time of Columba at Iona, or Cuthbert at Melrose and Lindisfarne. Therefore, we offer much more than just an academic summer school, although we do not offer less than that. We take seriously the minds that God gave us, but also the bodies with which they are united; the reason with which our Creator has endowed us, but also our imaginations and our emotions. There will be time to be at peace, for spiritual guidance, for laughter and for music, for worship and reflection, and for interaction and discussion. We can’t promise you a life-changing experience, but we think it’s possible.