Scottish churches unite to confront legacy of slavery

By staff writers
June 14, 2007

The official ecumenical body Action of Churches Together (ACTS) in Scotland - which brings together Prebyterians, Catholics, Anglicans and Free Churches - is holding a national service this weekend to commemorate the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807.

The service, to take place at the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre, is being organised by ACTS in collaboration with the National Trust for Scotland and will be attended by church leaders from the main Christian denominations, and by many political figures, including Linda Fabiani, Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture.

During the service, representatives of Scotland's major Christian denominations will come together to sign a commonly agreed statement on the slave trade and its legacies.

The churches say they are seeking to acknowledge the brutality, sufferings and legacies of the slave trade, to honour those people that opposed and worked to end it, and to invite the people of Scotland to fight against the legacies of slavery and the forms of slavery and exploitation which still exist today, said ACTS.

Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, declared: "This is a great opportunity for churches in Scotland to come together and express regret for Scottish involvement in the slave trade but at the same time to celebrate together the courage of those who challenged, against the odds, these injustice.”

The service is part of an open weekend at the David Livingstone Centre and will follow on from the Scottish Churches Racial Justice Conference scheduled for earlier on Saturday 16 June 2007.

The Rev Sheilagh Kesting, who is Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, commented: “This event will not just look to the past. It is an opportunity for us to witness together to our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ today, in challenging modern forms of slavery like human trafficking.”

The Rev James W. Jones, retiring Convener of the Scottish Churches' Forum, which brings together Free Churches and others, added: "Slavery continues to show itself in many new forms."

He went on: "We must not forget the victims and need to continue to take action over our own involvement in the inequalities of the world economic order."

There will also be performances from the Hamilton Salvation Army Band and the Glasgow Gospel Choir as part of the ecumenical spirit of the occasion. Civic and other non-religious figure will take part, as well as guests from faith communities.

Action of Churches Together in Scotland is the national ecumenical instrument for Scotland. Its member churches are the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic Church, The Salvation Army, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the United Free Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church.

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