Churches gather in Edinburgh to discuss Brexit reality

Church representatives from across Britain, Ireland and continental Europe will gather in Edinburgh today to discuss how they adapt to the new post-European landscape of the United Kingdom.

Brexit flag
Organisers say the overall aim of the event is to “demonstrate that churches are seeking to be a beacon of calm, peace and sense in these troubled times” along with “promoting the highest standards of truth and integrity in political debate and negotiations”.

Changing and challenging

The ‘Europe – Where Now?’ two-day conference, at the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, will explore how religious organisations in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe interact within a new political context following the British Prime Minister’s triggering of Article 50 which begins the process of leaving the European Union.

Rev Alison McDonald, convener of the ecumenical relations committee of the Church of Scotland, said: "In these changing and challenging times for our continent, it is more important than ever for churches to come together to listen to one another, share concerns, affirm common values and express our Christian calling to unity which endures through all shifting political realities.

“This conference provides a space for us to consider how we contribute to shaping a Europe based on values such as peace, justice, freedom, tolerance, reconciliation and human dignity within a context of British and Irish churches, while accompanied by colleagues from across Europe.”

Measured and reflective

Among the guest speakers will be former deputy First Minister of Scotland, Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness Jim Wallace. He will present a lecture on the socio-political challenges facing the British Isles.

He said: “I am looking forward to this conference, as it will provide an opportunity to bring people from across Britain and around Europe to consider where we are and where we are going in a way which will be more measured and reflective than much of the political debate.

"And It is also a chance for our churches to consider how to raise a prophetic voice, speaking up for many of our disadvantaged communities, whose votes are thought to have been crucial in the referendum outcome.”

Perspective

There will also be a panel discussion with church leaders from the Church of Scotland, Church of England, Churches Together in Wales (Cytûn) and Irish Council of Churches which will provide perspectives from every part of the British Isles.

Organisers say the overall aim of the event is to “demonstrate that churches are seeking to be a beacon of calm, peace and sense in these troubled times” along with “promoting the highest standards of truth and integrity in political debate and negotiations”.

The conference is also serving as a preparatory event for next year’s Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), which will be held in Novi Sad, Serbia. The President of CEC, the Rt Rev Christopher Hill and the General Secretary of CEC, the Very Rev Fr Heikki Huttunen, will be amongst the speakers.

The event is being jointly organised by Action of Churches Together In Scotland (ACTS), Churches Together in Britain & Ireland (CTBI) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC).