Take your time and think long and hard. Imagine what sort of society you want to be a member of in twenty years from now. What sort of country do we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in? That was the challenge put to Hamilton Presbyters, when they met on 3rd November 2015, by Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, Secretary, Church and Society Council of The Church of Scotland.
Throughout the Bible we read of God’s passion for justice and his special love for the poor. It is in response to this teaching that the Church and faith communities have always been at the forefront of social change based on justice and care for the vulnerable; the least in society. From the abolition of slavery, the Black Civil Rights Movement, the ending of apartheid in South Africa and the struggle to overcome communism in Eastern Europe the Church has played a critical role. The Church of Scotland has helped to deliver education for all, provided the foundations of healthcare and through local churches and church-based organisations continues to provide emergency food, shelter, counselling and care in thousands of ways.
But, despite all the progress made in past and present generations, we are more aware than ever that society is not equal for all, that there remain many who are disadvantaged, who face significant struggles in life. There are rising levels of food poverty, growing inequality, mass migration, global warming and religious extremism.
The referendum in September 2014 has created an appetite for change in Scotland. Not about whether we remain as part of the United Kingdom or become an independent nation, but about what sort of country we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in. There is a momentum for change and the Church of Scotland wants to be at the forefront of that change. Now is the time to think big and long-term. The Church of Scotland is taking a long-term approach to tackling inequality and injustice. Over the next ten years, it will seek to bring about change in some of the most critical issues facing our nation and planet. It wants the people of Scotland to help to set these priorities.
This autumn the Church and Society Council is asking people in local churches and in every part of Scottish society - politicians, voluntary organisations, people from every walk of life, including those who are the most disadvantaged and excluded in Scottish society - to help develop new ideas and priorities to work on in the future.
The Church wants to hear from 10,000 people about what will make the biggest difference. We are saying:
It is 2035. Scotland is a fairer, more equal and more just society in a fairer, more equal and more just world. Take your time and imagine what this would look and feel like.
The Church and Society Council will gather everyone’s suggestions and identify no more than six key areas for action. It will then commit itself to work every day to bring these changes about - locally, nationally and internationally - in every part of Scotland, for at least the next ten years.
If you haven’t already responded to the invitation to speak out please take the time and make your voice heard: www.churchofscotland.org.uk/speak_out Why not contact Fiona Buchan the Speak Out Coordinator and ask for someone to come along to a service or a meeting in your church so that more people can hear about this important consultation and make their voices heard about the future of Scotland.