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28 June 2016

This is a time for reconciliation  

The disappointment, the guilt, the anxiety, and even the anger many are feeling in the wake of the vote by the UK to leave the European Union should not be ignored. It is important we hear the pain many are feeling. We are in a time of considerable turbulence. And this is an opportunity for the Church to ask itself challenging questions: what does it mean to love our neighbours - meaning the neighbours in our streets and those across the nations of Europe? We should witness the peace of God to those who are distressed, and we should be actively working to be peacemakers. We have the ministry of reconciliation.

We've already seen some ugly responses to the vote. As the Church we must utterly condemn all racism.  We are stronger as a Church because of the work of migrant Christians. They have brought a huge amount to the UK, and I hope they will continue to do so. We should model through our diversity –  whether that's racial, across the generations, or between different classes – what it looks like to live and work together while fully respecting each other's differences. This witness of unity honours God.

As we reach out to our communities we also have an opportunity to sweeten the debate that is taking place. This is a chance for us to work to bridge divides, to be salt and light across Europe for strong ongoing relationship: across the UK, across our communities, and in our churches. The Church should be a bridge between broken relationships. We should actively look for opportunities to bring peace into fractured places. We should hold out a hand of friendship when others turn away.

It may also be a time for the Church to reflect on its own role in the past few years. We can look at politics and see a political vacuum: the absence of leadership is deafening in its silence. Maybe there is a need for us to repent for when we have walked away from public life, when we have failed to provide public leadership.

This is a time where the confidence of many has been shaken, where foundations are crumbling. As a society, it is a time when we look beneath our feet and see only sand. As the Church, this is an opportunity for us to point to the Rock. To look to the one who gives us everlasting hope, and whose foundations stand in the strongest of storms.

We pray for peace and we trust in our King Jesus – who is the hope of the nations. But we also hear His call, the call for us to be His ambassadors in this world. That means we love those around us with a love that requires sacrifice, and it means we take on responsibility and act with authority that comes from Him.

This is a time for reconciliation and healing. It's a time to provide hope and vision.

After the 2014 referendum in Scotland we produced this short booklet, written by Rev Gordon Kennedy, to help the Church engage in the crucial work of reconciliation. In light of the referendum result, we are reissuing this text in firm view that this work is more vital than ever.

Steve Clifford, general director

Evangelical Alliance