The winner of this year’s Alastair Haggart Bursary Award is Mrs Kate Sainsbury, Lay Reader in the Strathearn Group of Churches, Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane. Kate’s study leave will be spent considering how an ‘intentional emergent community’ and a fresh expression of Church might be created through the foundation and nurturing of the Appletree Community, and how Scottish and international L’Arche communities might inform this development. The Appletree Community is a residential community for people with complex and profound learning disabilities currently being developed in the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, modelled on the L’Arche communities. It will also be a research hub; conversations with the Scottish Government and individuals within the research community in Scotland are already making that a reality.
The core of the study programme is a series of visits to Jean Vanier and the founding L’Arche community of Troisly in Northern France, to Professor Jonas Ruskus and the Lithuanian L’Arche community – Professor Ruskus is a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – and to Professor John Swinton and the new L’Arche-like community on the campus of Aberdeen University. Such visits and subsequent study will contribute to the theological dimension of the book Kate is proposing to write, describing the founding of ‘Appletree Community’, and to a presentation in 2019 at the International Association for the Scientific Study of Developmental Disability, Glasgow.
In receiving this Bursary, Kate says “I hope that my leadership of the project, identified as part of my missional role to all of God’s people, will bring credit to the Scottish Episcopal Church. I hope that my focus of ministry on those on the outside who are amongst the most marginalised will demonstrate a credibility of the gospel in our time. I am thrilled that the Trustees of the Alastair Haggart Bursary Award are supporting the development of Appletree Community through this award: my thanks to them, to Bishop Mark Strange who prompted me to apply, and to all those who have prayed for and encouraged the vision; this invites people with profound learning disabilities into the heart of the Scottish Episcopal Church, for which I am profoundly grateful.”
Bishop Mark said: “I am delighted that Kate has received this Bursary. She has dedicated so much of her life and ministry to the inclusion of those with profound learning disabilities. When Kate shared her vision of the Appletree Community, I was aware that I was glimpsing something very powerful and potentially life-changing for some of the most vulnerable in society”.
The Bursary is awarded annually in memory of Bishop Haggart, Principal of Coates Hall 1971-1975, Bishop of Edinburgh 1975 – 1985 and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church 1977 – 1985, through the kindness and generosity of Mary, his widow, and the family. It is awarded to help the financing of sabbaticals or other similar leave of absence for ministers of the Scottish Episcopal Church, at a stage in the person’s ministerial life when the project will significantly enhance his or her development.