Dr Alexander (Sandy) Forsyth (LLB, BD (Min), Dip.L.P, MTh, Phd)

T.F. Torrance Lecturer in Theology & Mission

Background

Sandy began his post in September 2018, following completion of his PhD in 2014 at New College under the supervision of Prof. David Fergusson, work at New College thereafter for two years as Hope Trust Post-doctoral Research Fellow , and a two further years of teaching in the Theology department of the University of Glasgow. His teaching and research interests are in Practical Theology, in particular missiology, church and society, pioneer ministry and 'fresh expressions of church', ministry training and the interactions of religion with the civil law.

His doctoral thesis was on mission in contemporary Scotland, concentrating on dynamic modes of the interaction of faith with everyday life exercised in the quarter-century after World War II by such as Tom Allan, the Iona Community, the Gorbals Group Ministry and Ian Fraser.  A book from the thesis was published by Pickwick Publications (Wipf & Stock) in September 2017, entitled 'Mission by the People'.

His background is in law, with an LLB from the University of Aberdeen, Dip LP from the University of Glasgow and over two decades of experience in practice. He qualified as a solicitor in 1992, worked as a civil and criminal court solicitor in Glasgow and then called at the Scottish Bar as an advocate in 1999. He was in practice at the Bar until July 2015, specialising in civil litigation, particularly personal injury and clinical negligence cases . He is also an accredited mediator.

He graduated BD (Min) from Trinity College, University of Glasgow in 2008, was ordained as a minister in the Church of Scotland in 2009, and has spent several years as part-time Associate Minister in parishes in Kirkintilloch  and Bearsden near Glasgow.  His present post is part-funded by the Church of Scotland to contribute to the future framework of ministry training, and partly by members of the T.F. Torrance Theological Fellowship. He was a visiting teaching fellow at the University of Glasgow in 2015-16, and at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania in February 2016.  He was also Research Assistant and Associate Editor on the three-volume History of Scottish Theology, published by Oxford University Press in late 2019.           

Qualifications

LLB, BD (Min) (1st Class), Dip.L.P, MTh (with distinction), PhD

Responsibilities & affiliations

Programme Director for Divinity Degrees

Acting Honours Dissertation Manager

Assistant Director, Centre for Theology & Public Issues, New College, Edinburgh https://www.ed.ac.uk/divinity/research/centres/theology-public-issues

Associate of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, New College, Edinburgh http://www.cswc.div.ed.ac.uk/

External Examiner in Practical Theology Subjects, University of Cardiff

Member of Church of Scotland Special Commission on the Future of Presbyterianism

Consultant to the Special Commission of Dunfermline Presbytery on its Future Vision

Member of the British and Irish Association of Practical Theology

Member of the American Society of Missiology

Member of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh

Undergraduate teaching

2018/19: Christian Theology: Doctrines & Debates; Parables in Practice; God in Philosophy

2019/20 - Introduction to Pioneer Ministry and Church Planting; Mission in Contemporary Scotland; Christian Theology: Approaches and Themes; Parables in Practice; Ethics in Society

Postgraduate teaching

2019/20 - Critical Debates in Mission; Church, State and Civil Society; Selected Themes in World Christianity

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Current PhD students supervised

Matt Reis (PhD)

4 Honours students - dissertations 2019/20

Research summary

Missiology; Fresh Expressions of Church, Pioneer Ministry and Church Planting; History of the Scottish Churches since WWII; Secularisation; Church, State and Society; Religion and the Civil Law

Current research interests

Working as co-editor on second volume of the Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology. Analysing the decline within the institutional churches in Scotland over the past half century, quantitatively and qualitatively, mapping their present position, and forming a future missionary ecclesiology as a result.

Project activity

Research project completed March 2019 for the Church of Scotland to enable future pathways, training and support for pioneer ministry and church planting on Scotland - debated at the Church's General Assembly in May 2019 - published as 'Inspiring New Worshipping Communities: Pathways for Pioneer Ministry and Church Planting in the Church of Scotland' - https://ga.churchofscotland.org.uk/publications/blue-book, at pp 379-421 (pdf).

Current project grants

As above.

Past project grants

• Church of Scotland Research Grant re report on pioneer ministry and church planting, 2017-18.
• Trinity College Research Fellow, University of Glasgow, 2016-18; Hope Trust Post-doctoral Research Fellowship, New College, University of Edinburgh, 2014-16.
• Postgraduate scholarships: for PhD – Arts & Humanities Research Council; for MTh – Church of Scotland, Hope Trust, Clark-Mile End Trust and others.
• Undergraduate prizes from the University of Glasgow on graduation: Hector and Jane MacLennan MacLeod Prize for best male graduate in Divinity; Major Maxwell Forsyth Prize for excellence in Honours work in Divinity; James Cleland Prize for best essay in Divinity; and Rae Wilson Medal for Systematic Theology.

Conference details

  • March to June 2020 – contributions to three Digital Church Workshops, run in partnership with Sanctuary First and the Centre for Digital Theology, University of Durham
  • February 2020 - Scottish Evangelical Theology Society, Edinburgh: ‘Missional Growth in English Cathedrals and Abbeys: Lessons for Scotland?'
  • October 2019 – T.F. Torrance Conference, Perthshire: ‘Mission: Pioneer Ministry and Church Planting in Scotland.’
  • August 2019, 'The Legacy of the Ministry and Mission of Tom Allan', Conference of the United Free Church, Dunblane
  • July 2019, 'Introduction of Pioneer Training in Scotland: Challenges and Context', International Conference of Pioneer Educators, Oxford
  • June 2019, 'Pioneer Ministry and Church Planting in the Church of Scotland', European Conference on Pioneering, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • March 2019, 'Preaching and Mission', Preaching Conference, New College, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
  • November 2018 - 'The Future of Pioneer Ministry in Scotland', Gathering of Pioneer Ministers in Church of Scotland & Scottish Episcopal Church
  • November 2018 - 'Mission in Scotland', T.F. Torrance Retreat, Firbush, Perthshire
  • November 2017 - 'The Church', 'Learn' conference of the Church of Scotland
  • June 2017 – History of Scottish Theology Symposium, New College, Edinburgh (keynote speaker) – ‘Scottish Post-War Missiology and Ecumenism: Tom Allan and ‘Tell Scotland’, The Iona Community, The Gorbals Group Ministry and Scottish Churches House.’
  • November 2016 – American Academy of Religion, San Antonio, Texas: ‘The Conscientious Objection for Religious Belief by For-Profits Businesses in the UK and USA to Provide Certain Goods and Services’ (on the so-called ‘gay cake’ case in Northern Ireland).
  • March 2016 – Oxford Brookes University, Law Faculty: ‘The Establishment of the Church of Scotland and the Potential Effect of Independence’.
  • November 2015 - Symposium hosted by the Archbishop of York at Bishopgate Palace, York: ‘Scotland: Christian Social Vision, the Churches and Constitutional Change'.
  • May 2013 - Conference on Mission and the Church, New College, Edinburgh: ‘Walking the Tightrope: The Missiology of Tom Allan for the Church Today’.
  • June 2012 – Annual Conference of American Society of Missiology, Chicago, USA: ‘Changing the Face of Christ to the Poor: The Gorbals Group Ministry 1957-78’.
  • November 2011 - Conference on Theology and Therapy, New College, Edinburgh: ‘The Founding of the Tom Allan Counselling Centre, Glasgow 1962’.

Invited speaker

November 2017 and January 2018 -conferences of 'Path of Renewal' and Church of Scotland probationers' conferences (four in total), conferences in November 2017 and 2018 above.

Organiser

History of Scottish Theology conferences, New College, Edinburgh, December 2016 & June 2017

Papers delivered

As above.

More video

In the press

Contributor to BBC documentary 'Six Weeks to Save the World', May 2018 

  • ‘Pioneer Training in Scotland: Challenges and Context’, Anvil (2020, forthcoming)
  • ‘Developing Training for Pioneer Ministry in The Church of Scotland’, Theology in Scotland, Vol 26, No.2, 2019 - https://ojs.st-andrews.ac.uk/index.php/TIS/issue/view/189
  • ‘Theology and Practice of Mission in Mid-20th Century Scotland’, in Fergusson, D. & Elliott M. eds, History of Scottish Theology, Volume Three (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • Inspiring New Worshipping Communities: Pathways for Pioneer Ministry and Church Planting in the Church of Scotland – Church of Scotland, May 2019 - https://ga.churchofscotland.org.uk/publications/blue-book, at pp 379-421 (pdf).
  • Mission by the People: Re-Discovering the Dynamic Missiology of Tom Allan and his Scottish Contemporaries, (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2017).
  • ‘The Christian Church’, in Learn: Understanding Our Faith (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2017).
  • ‘Call to the Kingdom and God’s Mission’, in Learn: Vocation (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2016).
  • ‘An Introduction to the History and Theology of the Eldership within The Church of Scotland’, (December 2015) – for the Church of Scotland (c. 25,000 words), published at https://www.resourcingmission.org.uk/general-assembly/2016.
  •  ‘Missional Thinking in the Eldership: A Light to the Nation’ in Learn: Eldership (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2015), 68-69.
  • ‘The Missiology of Tom Allan for Today’, Theology in Scotland, 21.1, (2014), 45-58.
  • ‘Walking the Tightrope: The Missiology of Tom Allan for Today’, Practical Theology, 4.2 (2011) 227-245.