Moderator invites churches to ‘open their doors’ and reflect on Brexit
Published on 7 March 2019
Our political leaders continue to wrestle with divisions over Brexit and our changing position within Europe and beyond. During her year asModerator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, wrote an open letter calling for congregations and communities to "come together" in prayer and reflection.
It will not have escaped your attention that we are currently living through a time of tumultuous change in the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union.
Across the country this change is having, and will continue to have, a profound impact on individual lives within our congregations and our communities.
As the 29th of March approaches, I am increasingly struck by the need within our communities for space to come together, to listen, to reflect and pray, to learn from and celebrate one another.
This period has the potential to create division and distress amidst the uncertainty of what happens next. I believe that there is a place for the Church to work for hope, unity and peace. That is why this month, as the UK's planned departure from the European Union approaches, I am inviting congregations to open their doors, in partnership with other local churches and congregations, to provide spaces of welcome, and reflection: spaces in which our communities might come together and demonstrate hope in the face of uncertainty, belonging instead of rejection, and a joy in one another that surpasses our disagreements or political differences.
What this invitation might look like in practice will differ according to the unique character and context of each of the communities who choose to take it up.
However, some of the suggestions that have been shared with me during my time as Moderator include:
- Inviting local nationals from other EU countries to speak about the joy and challenges of living in the UK, and their experience of living in the UK at this time of uncertainty
- Hosting a Europe night to share and celebrate food and culture from across Europe
- Creating a Charter of welcome, pledging to continue to welcome brothers and sisters in Christ from across Europe
- Inviting local employers to talk about any challenges their business might be facing at this time, particularly in terms of personnel, and their hopes for the future
- Taking the opportunity to link with congregations in Europe through the International Presbytery, to hear about the experience of being a UK citizen living beyond the UK at this time
- Opening up your church for an hour a day as a place of prayer and reflection for the UK's future relationship with Europe and beyond
- Hosting a vigil style service with stations where people are encouraged to give thanks for the past, to offer into God's hands the present and to acknowledge any worries or fears about the future
This list is not exhaustive. I know too that there will be prayers posted weekly on the Church's website, but hopefully these things together show some of the small but significant ways in which we the Church can offer spaces of welcome, spaces of hope, spaces of joy and spaces of belonging in this time of uncertainty.
As the body of Christ, the Church exists beyond human borders; our calling to live out the generous love of God in our communities, in our country, in Europe and beyond remains, steadfast and unchanged. May I invite you to be particularly mindful of this over the coming, and significant, days and weeks in the life of the country.
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Susan Brown