The Church of Scotland has announced the membership of its newly created Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity, which will spend two years exploring the fundamental ethical and moral questions underlying economic decision-making, many of which have been highlighted for society by the credit crunch.
The thirteen-member commission comprises people with expertise from the fields of business and economics, church and community, politics and trade unionism.
The Commission will take part in a number of meetings around the country organised through Presbyteries. There will also be meetings in Edinburgh, involving discussion with people whose experience is relevant to the Commission's work.
The Commission will primarily consider matters relating to the Scottish economy and has identified two specific groups of problems, those relating to poverty and those relating to the use of wealth.
The Commission will look to answer three large questions:
* How can the Church best offer Scottish society a new vision of what might be achievable in the economic, social and community life of the nation?
* How can the Church, at local and national level, be encouraged to become more engaged in transformative economics, linking values such as justice, cohesion and sustainability to economic success?
* How should inequality be addressed while ensuring that appropriate levels of choice are available to all?
Prof Charles Munn OBE, the recently retired Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland, has agreed to chair the Commission. It will have 12 members, who are:
Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow City Council.
Paul Chapman who was for ten years director of The Employment Project, a church-supported organisation working with unemployed men and women in the New York area.
The Rev Doug Gay, Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Glasgow.
The Rev Kathy Galloway, Head of Christian Aid in Scotland and former leader of the Iona Community.
Janette Harkess, director of policy and research, Scottish Council for Development and Industry and formerly deputy editor of the Herald newspaper.
Werner G. Jeanrond, Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow.
David Lonsdale, Assistant Director of CBI Scotland.
John McFall, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee from 2001 until he stepped down as an MP in the 2010 General Election.
Jeremy Peat, Director of the David Hume Institute, former Senior Economic Adviser at the Scottish Office (1985 - 1993) and Group Chief Economist at RBS (1993 - 2005).
Cathy McCormack, campaigner, member of the Poverty Truth Commission, and, co author of “The Wee Yellow Butterfly”.
Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC.
Jim Spowart, former managing director of Direct Line Financial Services and founder of Intelligent Finance (IF).
The Kirk's Church and Society council Convener, the Rev Ian Galloway whose Council proposed the commission said: “This is a challenging time for many people, especially those who are, in their poverty, paying for the excesses of those who craved wealth.
"Yet it is also an opportunity for us as a church and a nation to step back and look into the very basis of our economic system to ask deeply human questions about what is acceptable and what should be the driving force of our economic relationships,” he added.
Chair of the commission Charles Munn commented: “The formation of the Special Commission gives the Kirk the opportunity to speak to its members and to the wider world about matters of great importance. That many parts of the economic system have broken so badly impacts all of our lives. It is important that the national church take the time to reflect, and look at the ways in which the economic system can operate more efficiently and fairly, in order that the benefits of economic growth are shared more widely.”