On 23 March, the Scottish Parliament is set to debate Stories of Hope, a report delivered by the Evangelical Alliance in 2020 to gather and broadcast the numerous community schemes and acts of service undertaken by the church in Scotland, after a members’ motion was lodged by Jeremy Balfour MSP.

The report highlighted the huge impact that churches and other Christian groups have had in delivering support and responding to the needs of their communities during lockdown. Produced by the Evangelical Alliance in partnership with Serve Scotland, the report submitted its survey of projects across Scotland between May 2020 and July 2020 to the Scottish Government in December 2020. You can find the Stories of Hope report here.

It found that over 212,214 individual acts of support had been delivered with the help of more than 3,000 volunteers across over 180 locations. The projects, from the Borders to the Highlands, were able to reach some of the most vulnerable in society in a season of great need, highlighting the significant impact churches have had across the country. The projects themselves covered both the breadth of the country and a breadth of services, with some focusing on delivering food or supporting the homeless, while some projects focused on phoning the elderly and the isolated, or connecting with children struggling with mental health. For many, these services were literally a lifeline.

The diversity of those involved in the projects, reaching across denominations and working in partnership with a number of different charities, speaks to the unity of the church in this moment and stands as a testament to the character of the nation.

What is happening now and how can you get involved?

The Scottish Parliament is due to debate the report as part of a members’ motion. This means that MSPs from across the different parties will be invited to speak on the report and the wider topic of church and community projects during these times. In addition, the Scottish Government will respond to the debate. The debate is due to take place on the evening of 23 March, though the exact time will only be released on the day, you can watch the debate live through the Scottish Parliament website.

The debate offers an opportunity to showcase the real impact that Christians and churches are having across the country in the way that they are serving the people around them. The debate also offers the incredible chance to encourage policy makers to take note of these vital projects and has the potential to build new relationships for those involved within them. Indeed, partnerships between churches, organisations and local authorities enabled some of the projects which were surveyed to flourish.

One way that you can help is by emailing your MSPs, asking them to participate in the debate, read the Stories of Hope report and get in contact with linked projects in their constituency. You can use the Scottish parliament website to find your MSPs and their contact details. Please remember to be courteous and clear when contacting MSPs.

Another much-needed way to get involved is to pray for the MSPs involved in the debate, as well as the projects mentioned in the report. Please continue to pray for all that God is doing in Scotland and for the work of His church.