Church & Society eNews – December 2013

The Church & Society Council of the Church of Scotland ‘Speak Out‘ newsletter for December 2013 encourages church members (and others!) to Speak Out against Human Trafficking – a practice the Council regards as “modern day slavery” and which is happening in Scotland right now. To find out more and get details about how we can play our part in speaking out against this practice, visit the main article on the Church of Scotland website.

The newsletter also reports on the Church and Society Conference held in October, looks at the legacy of the IF Campaign in Scotland, encourages members to become blood and organ donors, looks back at Living Wage Week 2013, reports on the Stop Destitution Campaign, introduces the Your Faith Your Finance initiative, encourages churches to take part in Earth Hour 2014 (which will be on Saturday 29 March at 8.30pm), and much more.

Speak Out against Human Trafficking
Hardly a week goes by when there is not a news story about human trafficking; people sold as commodities, whether for domestic servitude, sexual purposes or forced labour. This is happening in Scotland now, in villages, towns and cities across the country. It is modern-day slavery, and just as the church supported the campaign to eradicate slavery 200 years ago, so we must now act to eradicate human trafficking. Human beings have been created in the image of God and are loved equally by God, therefore we cannot stand by and watch as people are bought and sold as possessions. For further information on what the church has said on this issue and how to take action, see the full article on the Church of Scotland website.

Speak Out, Make a Difference – Church and Society Conference 2013
On Saturday 26 October 2013 over 100 representatives from congregations across Scotland gathered in Perth to attend ‘Speak Out: Make a Difference’, the national conference of the Church and Society Council. We heard passionate and challenging accounts from Rev. Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Council, and Rev. Dr. Richard Frazer, from the Grassmarket Community Project, on both the national and the local picture in Scotland – what the Church is doing to address the social and political issues affecting Scotland today. A full report from the day and photographs of the event will be available shortly on our website.

The Legacy of the IF Campaign in Scotland
Throughout 2013 there’s been great progress made in tackling some of the underlying causes of hunger, thanks to you and the thousands of people across the UK who’ve made your voices heard. We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ve made a great start. A leaflet with details of the legacy of the IF campaign in Scotland can be found here – please share this with your congregation to update them on the work of the campaign.

Flesh and Blood Campaign
The Church of Scotland is the latest in a line of churches to take part in the fleshandblood campaign calling for people to look at being a blood or organ donor as an act of Christian generosity. The campaign wants as many people as possible to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation Register become a blood donor and talk to their families about their wish to be an organ donor. For more information see the article on the Moderator’s involvement on the Church of Scotland website.

Living Wage Week 2013
Living Wage Week took place on the 3-9 November and included the launch of a new tool to empower pension savers to email their pension fund to urge the adoption of the Living Wage in FTSE 100 companies. This new on-line campaign tool will make an impact if the maximum possible number of people are made aware that it offers them the chance to have an influence, through their pension funds, on what big companies are doing on the Living Wages.

Stop Destitution Campaign
The Stop Destitution Campaign was nominated for a Campaign of the Year award at the Herald Society Awards, held on Wednesday, 20 November, in Glasgow. In the course of their three month campaign, they collected thousands of signatures opposing the UK Government’s inhumane policy of stopping asylum support when someone has their claim refused. The campaign achieved its aim of raising the profile of the issue, but ultimately has not as yet achieved policy change – please continue to support their work.

Your Faith Your Finance
The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) and Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) have recently launched a Your Faith Your Finance website. This website provides church groups with a host of new resources to make ethical and spiritual decisions about their use of money. It contains facts, links and case-studies covering issues ranging from banking and shopping to biblical parables about money. The website explains a range of different views on the subjects in question and includes resources for personal reflection and group discussion.

Earth Hour 2014
Eco-Congregation Scotland is working with WWF Scotland to encourage churches to take part in Earth Hour – register here to receive a free information pack. This year’s Earth Hour takes place on Saturday March 29 at 8.30pm. As we get closer to the day the eco-congregation website will contain information and resources on how your church can take part and stories about what other churches are planning, and afterwards will include photographs and stories about what you did during Earth Hour.

Side By Side – Marking the 16 Days of Action to End Violence Against Women: 25 November – 10 December
White Ribbon Scotland is teaming up with Scottish Women’s Aid and Edinburgh Hollaback! to hold the first ‘Side by Side’ event in Scotland on 3 December, to raise funds and awareness for organisations working to prevent violence against women. It includes a three-legged race from Edinburgh Castle to Dynamic Earth, followed by a panel event at Dynamic Earth at 2pm, featuring men who have played a part in the movement to end violence against women.

Church and Society Resources
The Church and Society Council have produced a new range of resources to help congregations engage with some of our key issues, and to initiate discussions and consider further action within communities. The new topics are:

Truth and Lies
Justice and Peace in Israel and Palestine
Alcohol: use and abuse
Asylum and Destitution
Credit Unions: 10 ways to get involved

Lent Study – A Right Relationship with Money
In 2012 the Church of Scotland General Assembly received the report of the Special Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity – A right relationship with money. For Lent 2014, a small writers group has produced a six-session study resource based upon this report. The group was chaired by Professor Charles Munn, who was Chair of the Special Commission. The resource can be found on the CTBI website – we encourage you to access the resource and encourage its use within your congregations.

Scientists in Congregations
The School of Divinity at the University of St Andrews is excited to announce a major new programme that aims to encourage deeper conversations about faith and science within churches in Scotland. Led by Dr Andrew Torrance and directed by Professor Ivor Davidson, “Scientists in Congregations, Scotland” is funded by an award of over £500,000 from the John Templeton Foundation. Further details are available on the Society, Religion and Technology Website.

Olive Planting Program 2014 – Palestine: 8-17 February 2014
The YWCA-YMCA Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) and the Alternative Tourism Group (ATG) would love to invite you to the 7th Olive Planting Program 2014 in Palestine. A program for Civil International Solidarity with Palestinians, as part of the JAI ongoing Keep Hope Alive – Olive Tree Campaign, it aims to help Palestinian farmers and their families plant olive trees in their threatened fields. The program also features introductory presentations about the current situation in Palestine and the effects of the Apartheid Wall, tours in the old city of Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, as well as Ramallah, in addition to cultural events and social gatherings.

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