In the past the Kirk’s Church and Nation committee was a powerful voice for Scotland in the wake of the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and modernisations within the Kirk’s structure the Church and Society Council took on the mantle of the voice of the Church to both the Scottish Parliament and the Westminster Parliament.
The fourth day of procedings of the General Assembly saw this committee tackle a range of issues under the headings of Social Justice, Climate justice,criminal justice and international justice not to mention Education and Health issues. This major report to the assembly was introduced by the convener , Sally Foster-Fulton. In her opening speech she outlined key values which were at the core of their deliberations and deliverances. They included: Equality, Fairness, Justice, Respect and honesty as well as Compassion and tolerance. It was these that they tried to engender during last years referendum debate. The presented the report after what has been a seismic shift in Scottish politics with SNP gaining all but three of the seats in Scotland at the general Election. They are on the same page regarding Tridents renewal as the Kirk has long said such weapons are immoral and have no place in a civilised society. The veiws on austerity too match SNP and will no doubt collide with the Cameron Goovernment’s continued austerity plans. Indeed on the financial front the Kirk along with other denominations have begun a Credit Union which will give the poorest access to reasonable cost loans and indeed they encouraged members of the Kirk to join the Credit Union too. This move is seen as protecting the poorest from exorbitant rates of interest when they cannot get loans from thier bank.
The Climate too was looked at and the need to be goood stewards of the planet so we can hand it on in a good way to those who follow us our children and grand children. The energy issue and fairly priced energy became another issue for the Council over the year with energy poverty striking more and more of the poorest in society.
After a busy morning the Council returned to the Assembly Hall to complete thier busy report to the Commissioners covering international issues and new deliverences were added to the report not least two calls for the recognition of the state of PALESTINE. It also underlined that the Kirk did not like the violence happening in Israel Palestine.
Rev. Paraic Reamonn, minster at St. Andrew’s Church, Jerusalem underlined the import of the Kirk recognising the State of Palestine and urging the UK government and the European Union to also recognise the state of Palestine as it may well put pressure to find a solution to this issue which has gone on for decades. The violence against Gaza was also mentioned by commissioners who wished this move to take place.
The remainder of the days business included a report from the Iona Community as well as the panel for review and reform along with the Legal Questions committee and the council of Assembly who have been considering the Ministry and the implimentation of the Tenure commission. With such large shortages of Ministers and some vacancies lasting over a decade the Kirk has had to adapt to find solutions short term fora much longer term problem in rural and island areas. The Kirk has always sought to bring the ordinances of religion to all of Scotland, yet due to falling rolls and lack of ministers in training, which are far short of the number required to replace those retiring in the next 15 years, this becomes more and more difficult.