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12 June 2013

Churches aim to step up and serve

Churches aim to step up and serve

It's a major week for Christian social action in Scotland.

  • Tuesday sees launch of report Faith in the Community at the Scottish Parliament.
  • 250 gather on Wednesday for National Prayer Breakfast for Scotland to discuss transforming communities.
  • Events come at a time when churches are increasingly called upon to provide welfare support to the needy Events designed to unite churches at a time of church division.
  • Christians from across Scotland are gathering this week at two major events to discuss increasing the work of churches in deprived areas across Scotland, amidst increasingly difficult times for local communities.

This week also sees the launch of a major report, Faith in the Community, into how local authorities and churches can partner more effectively in straightened financial times.   

Good news for the poor

Today (Tuesday) around 50 policymakers, local authority representatives, church leaders and organisations will gather in the Scottish Parliament, at an event organised by the Evangelical Alliance. This event, Good News for the Poor, will discuss how churches can be effective partners for government in delivering real transformation to some of Scotland's most deprived areas. They will hear from the directors of two award-winning charities: Peter Crory, head of YMCA Scotland and Andy Hawthorne OBE, chief executive of the Manchester-based Message Trust. Mr Hawthorne will also be leading Time for Reflection at the Scottish Parliament today.

Faith in the Community

The Faith in the Community report will also be launched in Scotland at this event. This report, written by the Evangelical Alliance, surveyed every local authority in the UK about the barriers to working with churches and faith communities, and makes a number of recommendations to overcome these. At a time when local authority budgets are increasingly stretched across Scotland, this report offers a way forward for Scottish local authorities and Scottish churches to work together.

Fred Drummond, national director of the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland, said: "Churches are involved in doing fantastic work every day of the week across Scotland. From food banks to debt crisis services, Street Pastors to homeless projects, parent and toddler groups to visiting older people, Christians in Scotland are getting involved in helping others in their communities.

"At a time when all we hear about is divisions in the Scottish Church we want to highlight some of the good work that is happening and understand how we can do more. We also appreciate the financial pressures government is under and we want to partner with government where we can to see real community transformation."

Peter Crory, head of YMCA Scotland, said:"In Scotland we are being challenged to find new ways to deliver our public services, to shift stubborn poverty statistics and to bring hope and aspiration into peoples lives. The Church, active in so many of these places, holds a key part of the solution and is being called today to rise up to love and serve those most in need."

National Prayer Breakfast for Scotland

On Wednesday over 300 people from church denominations, political and business leaders and others from civic life across Scotland will then gather for the National Prayer Breakfast for Scotland.At a time when divisions are often reported in Scottish churches this major annual event in the Scottish church calendar, drawing Christians from all the major Scottish churches, is an opportunity for churches to come together to pray and discuss ways for churches to make a positive difference in Scottish communities. Andy Hawthorne OBE is the keynote speaker at this event on the theme Transforming Communities One Life at a Time.  

Neil Innes, chair of the National Prayer Breakfast for Scotland, said: "At a time when divisions in the Church are being reported regularly, the National Prayer Breakfast is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to unite and pray for the welfare of Scotland. We know how difficult times are for many in our nation and we are delighted to have Andy Hawthorne with us to encourage us to reach out to those in the communities around us who most need our help and who need to know the hope of the gospel." 

Before addressing both events, Andy Hawthorne said:   "The goal of the Church should not be full meetings, but transformed communities. Wherever the Church of Jesus truly engages in relevant prayer, presence and proclamation, crime comes down and one by one, communities are restored. Isn't that what it's all about?"  

Media enquiries:   Kieran Turner