Kirk in front line against poverty, Westminster told

By staff writers
November 29, 2013

The Church of Scotland "cares about the needs of everyone in Scotland and is often in the areas where it is most difficult to be".

That was the message on Monday 25 November 2013 from the Rt Rev Lorna Hood, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland as she addressed MPs in London.

Mrs Hood declared: "Sadly there are still too many places in Scotland where there is poverty in the material sense and also deprivation of spirit and hope.”

At a church reception in Dover House, Ms Hood introduced participants in church schemes in some of the most disadvantaged parts of Scotland to MPs.

Ms Hood said: “A bias to the poor is what the Church of Scotland see as a priority in its life and mission. We believe that priority is intertwined with our special role as a national church which we recognise as a role of service rather than privilege. The Church of Scotland cares about the needs of everyone in Scotland and is often in the areas where it is most difficult to be.

“Apart from being one of the largest independent social care agencies, almost every parish is itself a centre of social care, from soup kitchens to food banks to provision of accommodation for self-help groups to drug and drop-in centres to community care for the elderly and befriending services for people with dementia.

“Churches are often the glue which holds a community together, providing the leadership which makes transformational changes possible. Without such provision the fabric of civic life in Scotland would be sorely tested.

“It is this local network, strongly rooted and connected in every neighbourhood, which gives the Church of Scotland an unparalleled experience in knowing what communities are doing and the problems that exist within them.

“The work of Priority Areas is responsible for support, development and co-ordination of the church’s work within its poorest 56 communities. The Priority Areas Committee of the Church of Scotland has won the European Anti-Poverty Network Award 2013 for their role in transnational inspiration and learning in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

“Sadly there are still too many places in Scotland where there is both poverty in the material sense and also deprivation of spirit and hope,” the Kirk Moderator said.

Kourtney McMurray, who is taking part in the church’s leadership scheme in the East End of Glasgow said: “Taking part has made me more aware of what can be done where I live. I realise how much I have learned in less than a year. It has given me a lot of confidence. Instead of overthinking things I am ready to just go for things.”

The Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, Secretary of Priority Areas Committee of the Church of Scotland added: “The church has made a very clear commitment to be working alongside people in our poorest communities and every day I see the values of doing that. We are often in the areas where the church can make the biggest difference and it is a privilege to be involved.”

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