Kirk to host post-referendum service of reconciliation

By staff writers
12 May 2014

The Rev John Chalmers, Moderator Designate of the Church of Scotland, is to conduct a reconciliation service three days after the referendum on Scottish independence.

The Church says that the service, to which leading figures from the Yes and Better Together campaigns will be invited, is to be held at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh on 21 September and will focus on healing divisions and building the future together.

It said the service would highlight the need to put differences aside and begin working with each other, whatever the outcome of the referendum on 18 September.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, the Rev Chalmers said:"Reconciliation is the business of the church. So it seems fitting, at a time when people are taking sides and passions are running high, that we should prepare for the day after this is all over.

"I hope that reconciliation won't be the biggest part of the service. I hope that expressing our magnanimity in victory or defeat, or expressing our commitment to working together for the future of Scotland will be the biggest part of it.

"The danger is if we don't keep the level of this debate down to a respectful place, where we listen to one another, where we don't try to score points by name-calling, where the language doesn't get too emotive and sticks to substance, then the business of healing will be a lot harder afterwards.

"All of the politicians need to remember that if we keep the debate respectful at this time, there's much more chance that we will find it possible to work together afterwards, to build whatever the voters give us."

The Rev Chalmers has also pledged to work with other churches, other faiths and with non-faith groups who are committed to working for social cohesion and the greater good of Scotland.

A spokesman for Yes Scotland said whatever the outcome of the vote, it would be incumbent on people on both sides of the debate to co-operate for the benefit of the country.

"When we receive the invitation from the Church of Scotland we will be pleased to accept," he added.

A Better Together spokesman said: "Regardless of which way we vote as individuals, nobody should doubt the good faith of anybody in this debate.

"We all love Scotland and want to see the best future for our country, but we can respectfully disagree about how we achieve that."

The Kirk has made clear that it will not take sides on a Yes or No vote to the question 'should Scotland be an independent country?' Instead, it wishes to encourage a mature civic discussion and to provide resources for that debate. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20218)

* The Church of Scotland's report Imagining Scotland's Future: our vision is available here: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/19243/our...

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