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Heather M1

Dr Heather Major

Research Fellow in New Places for New People, Evangelism & Growth

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Prior to joining Cliff College in 2023, Heather taught at Highland Theological College, UHI and worked multiple part-time jobs as she completed her PhD with the University of Glasgow. She was born and raised in Canada but thinks of the Scottish Highlands as ‘home’ after spending 14 years in Scotland before moving to Cliff College.

Heather’s role at Cliff is a joint appointment with the Methodist Church where she is the lead researcher in the New Places for New People initiative. She also contributes to the academic team at Cliff with undergraduate teaching and postgraduate programme delivery, research development and supervision across a wide range of specialisations.

Heather’s academic training is intentionally interdisciplinary, bringing together an MTh in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and a PhD in Practical Theology, Rural Church and Mission. She is passionate about encouraging students to engage with the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament as they ask important questions about their faith and the local contexts in which they live and minister.

Her research interests involve the areas of rural mission and ministry, church planting and emerging Christian communities as well as practical, pastoral and missional applications for the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Psalms. She invites enquiries from postgraduate research students who are keen to pursue PhD studies in the areas of mission studies, rural mission & ministry, contextual theology, church planting, church revitalisation, congregational studies and Old Testament theology.

Heather is an advocate for rural ministries and serves as the Chair of the International Rural Churches Association where she works with an international team to connect rural churches and ministries around the world. She is also convenor of the Mission Research Network for Churches Together in England, networking with scholars, practitioners and researchers who are interested in missiological questions.

She has a diverse background and life experience ranging from working as an outdoor instructor and cook or a church youth worker to providing personal care for individuals with cerebral palsy and care in a residential home for older adults with dementia. She regularly draws on her experiences as she invests in discipleship and student development and engages with research participants.



Highland Theological College (University of the Highlands and Islands); BA (Hons) Theology

2015-2016New College, University of Edinburgh; MTh in Biblical Studies (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament)
2016-2022University of Glasgow; PhD in Practical Theology, Rural Church & Mission



  • ‘Beyond the Breaking Point: Responding to Brokenness in Rural Scottish Parish Churches’ in ‘Lived’ Mission in 21st Century Britain, Benjamin Aldous, Harvey Kwiyani, Victoria Turner and Peniel Rajkumar (eds.), (SCM Press, forthcoming 2024)

  • 16/04/2023

    Embodied, Contextual and Rural: Living Ministry in Rural Places, Keynote Address at Rural Ministries Conference, Center for Theology and Land at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Iowa (Awaiting Publication with Currents in Theology in 2024)

  • “How Long O Lord? Reflections on the Place of Lament in Mission”, Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal, Dec 2022

  • Rural Relationships: An Incarnational Approach to Mission and Ministry, Seminar Presentation/Plenary Discussion at ReNew Webinar hosted by ReNew - Church and Ministry with Children and Young People, Church of Scotland, June 2022

  • Imprecation: An Appropriate Missional Response to Trauma, Conference Paper – ‘Mission & Lament (& Joy)’ – BIAPT Mission Studies Day Conference, hosted by The Frances Young Institute, The Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, May 2022

  • Welcome to the Future: Adapting to a New Rurality, Conference Seminar – ‘In a Big Country’: Rural Ministry in a Changing World', at the Free Church of Scotland Rural Ministry Conference, Dingwall, November 2021

  • Mission, Discipleship and Pastoral Care: It’s Not Just for Ministers!, Conference Paper – ‘Learning to be Missionary Disciples’ Invitational Conference, Churches Together in England, Swanwick, November 2021

  • ’It’s Aye Been’: A Sojourner’s Perspective on the Relationship between Past, Present and Future in Scottish Churches, Conference Paper – American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, USA, November 2019

  • Struggles in Boundaries and Balancing Life in Immersive Authoethnographic Fieldwork with Rural Churches: A Reflective Case Study, Conference Paper, Ecclesiology and Ethnography Network, St John’s College, Durham, September 2019

  • 'Context is Key: A Conversation between Biblical Studies, Practical Theology and Missiology' in Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, Issue 75, Autumn 2018, pp.47-61

  • Lament as a Missional Tool, Conference Paper – Women in Missiology Network, Birmingham, June 2018

  • Rural Village Choirs as Missional Communities: A Case Study Report, Conference Paper – IRCA Quadrennial Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand, April 2018

  • 01/11/2016

    Book Review: 'Thinking about the Bible?: Simon J. Taylor, How to Read the Bible (without Switching off Your Brain)' in Expository Times, vol. 128, issue 2, pp.98-99

  • 01/11/2016

    Book Review: 'Reflecting on Worship: Joyce Ann Zimmerman, Worship with Gladness: Understanding Worship fro the Heart' in Expository Times, vol. 128, issue 2, pp.101-102