AN ARGYLL and Bute church is among a list of global faith pilgrimage sites which are the first in the world seeking to ensure that the environmental consequences of tourism are minimised.
Luss Parish Church, on the shores of Loch Lomond, is part of the Green Pilgrimage Network – and aims to become Scotland’s first ever Green Pilgrimage Place.
At a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council on Thursday 25 October, councillors welcomed the Luss Parish Church initiative and agreed to endorse its membership of the Green Pilgrimage Network.
This places the picturesque church on a list of international places of worship which includes such landmarks as Amritsar's Golden Temple and the Dome of the Rock and other renowned sites in Jerusalem.
Council officers will also work in partnership with Luss Parish Church and other agencies on a number of associated objectives. These include exploring the branding of Luss as Scotland’s first Green Pilgrimage Place, developing faith tourism in Argyll and Bute and conservation projects. The idea of a pilgrimage route from Luss to Iona may also be explored.
Argyll and Bute councillors met with the church’s Reverend Dane Sherrard in August to discuss the possibility of working in partnership on the project which seeks to reconcile the growth of faith and eco-tourism, both to improve the experience and reduce any adverse environmental effects.
Council leader Roddy McCuish said: “We are delighted to endorse Luss Parish Church’s membership of the Green Pilgrimage Network. It is fantastic that an Argyll and Bute community is among the first in the world to pioneer this unique approach, which offers marvellous opportunities for the area.
“Not only will it promote conservation and provide educational opportunities, it will also help to encourage visitors to Luss, which is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque Argyll and Bute communities in a stunning setting.”
The Green Pilgrimage Network was developed by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), a secular organisation which supports major world religions to develop environmental programmes based on their own faith principles. Nine global faith groups have committed to environmental action, with support from the United Nationals Development Programme.
The rationale is the linking of faiths to establish a network of green pilgrimage places around the world, sharing experiences and ideas to reduce the adverse environmental impact of pilgrimage to sites of worship in terms of individual theologies and understanding.
Luss Parish Church is part of the Church of Scotland and joins the following in being among the first members of the Green Pilgrimage Network:
Baha’i World Centre, Haifa, Israel
Armenian Orthodox Church, Etchmiadzin, Armenia
Franciscan Order, Assisi, Italy
Coptic Orthodox Church, Egypt
St Albans Cathedral, St Albans, England
Nidaros Diocese, Lutheran Church, Trondheim, Norway
Qadiriyyah Sufi Movement, Kano, Nigeria
Shiromani Gurdwara Parabandhak Committee, Amritsar, India
Jinja Honcho, Association of Shinto Shrines, Japan
Louguantai Taoist Temple, Louguan, China
Luss Parish Church has been a site of continuous Christian worship for over 1,500 years. It is dedicated to St Kessog, a sixth century Irish missionary and the patron saint of Scotland before St Andrew. The present church was constructed in 1875 and marked the 1,500th anniversary of worship