Drive-in sermons a revelation in Ross-shire

A DEEPLY religious and devout country music fan has started his own drive-in sermons in Ross-shire, and is attracting huge crowds.

Johnny Bremner's Drive in Church at Alness Academy Car Park. Picture: Ian Rhind
Johnny Bremner's Drive in Church at Alness Academy Car Park. Picture: Ian Rhind

Johnny Bremner, 63, has been entertaining north church-goers with his own style of preaching.

Up to 30 cars attended his last service, with many others walking to the ‘gig’ to take in the atmosphere.

While Johnny plays his gospel music, invited local ministers are providing some divine words.

He set up the drive-through in the car park of Alness Academy last month to “test the waters” on how the public would take to his innovative idea.

Johnny, a member of Rosskeen Free Church, said: “It has just taken off, and I’m delighted.

He claims many people are not keen to sit in church to hear sermons, but this gives them a new avenue, something that is popular in certain parts of America’s southern states.

Johnny, who actually got the idea from a similar event at Portrush in Northern Ireland, said: “I have had it in my mind since then, and thought I would try it out during this summer.

“Because of the success, I plan building on it for next year.”

He added: “Everyone has an issue in their life. I meet a lot of people and some would want to go to church, but they don’t like going into the buildings.

“Then there are disabled people who can’t manage going to church, so this drive-in means that people can come along and they won’t be seen. But at the same time we are getting the message across.

“It’s just an outreach for people to hear the gospel. I do it through music and then someone comes along and gives the word.

“There are people who don’t go to church who have been there. I was speaking to a lady who said she heard it way in the middle of Alness, so they hear it whether they come to the service or not.”

The initiative has attracted local Rosskeen minister Rev Iain MacAskill and David Hepburn, from the Fishermens’ Mission in Brora.

He will speak at this season’s final session on Sunday.

Johnny said: “This has been a test to see if there was any interest, which there obviously is.

“So next year I plan to get a trailer and work like a circus, driving through different communities to deliver the gospel.

“Like the circus put up posters saying they’re coming to town, that what I want to do with the drive-in church.

“I want to move about place from place, but still have my yearly one in alness. My missions is to bring the message across to different communities and to people who would love to go to church, but are frightened to do so.

“This is a challenge for me and I love a new challenge.”

Johnny has been a Christian for around 20 years and a professional singer for 35. During his career he has released 16 CDs and five DVDs

He added: “I grew up listening to the great Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Hank Locklin, and many more.

“I first established myself as a Country entertainer in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and turned professional in October 1979.At this point I formed a band called The Country Jays.”

The Country Jays were a popular country stage band and entertained audiences throughout Scotland, England, and Ireland.

He has shared a stage with popular American, Canadian, and Irish artists including the late Boxcar Willie, Hank Locklin, Porter Wagner, Joe Firth, Foster and Allen, Big Tom & the Mainliners, and many other top Irish artists.

He added: “Back in 1999-2000 I fulfilled another dream of building and owning my own recording studio and now help others to achieve their dream of wanting to record a CD.”