The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) has launched a new project designed to build links between congregations and their representatives in Westminster.
The ‘Meet Your MP’ project has been created to help congregations develop honest conversations with their local members of Parliament and to give church communities the opportunity to influence the decisions that affect them. It follows hot on the heels of the successful Meet Your MSP project, started in 2016 to help congregations build relationships with their representatives at Holyrood.
Irene MacKinnon from SCPO explained the thinking behind the project, saying:
“The SCPO is excited to be launching Meet Your MP – following the ongoing success of the Meet Your MSP project. We have been met with enthusiasm from MPs and from churches who would like to become more politically active and engaged and we hope this initiative will help them to do just that.
“We want church communities to be at the heart of the decisions that affect their everyday lives – and what better way for churches to get involved than to get to know their representatives at Westminster and Holyrood.
“SCPO exists to serve the churches in Scotland and we would encourage them to make use of the materials and ideas provided and start new and meaningful relationships with their MPs today.”
Church members are encouraged to invite their MP to a public meeting, an event, to see a project the church is involved with, or for a walk around their local area, where church members can highlight any issues that need to be addressed. It could even be as simple as a chat over a cup of tea.
A variety of useful resources to help facilitate these meetings are now available on the SCPO website; from a toolkit to help promote events, to letter templates that can be used to make contact with local MPs.
Speaking of the new initiative, Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church and Society Council, said:
“I warmly welcome the Meet Your MP project and would encourage churches across Scotland to take part and get in contact with their local representatives. It is important to have your voice heard but it is also vital that we make the most of that voice by creating meaningful relationships with those who take decisions on our behalf.
“The idea of contacting politicians can be daunting but our experience so far is that they welcome invites from churches and would like to know more about what we do. Guidance and help is available via the SCPO so what are you waiting for? Go ahead and Meet Your MP!”
What do our MPs think?
“I am delighted to support the SCPO’s Meet Your MP project and would encourage individuals and groups from all faith communities to get involved.
“Initiatives such as these play an important role in making elected representatives more accessible and helping more people engage in the political process.
“This particular project also encourages churches to come together on matters of common interest, to share their experiences and thoughts on a range of issues, and collectively bring them to their local MP.”
“I’m delighted to see the Meet Your MP project launching. So often, it is the Church which is at the heart of community organising, whether that’s running the food bank, facilitating youth clubs or organising community gala days.
“As someone who is both a Member of Parliament, and a Church member in a personal capacity, I know that the Church has more to say and do over and above the bread and butter issues of community organising.
“That’s why it’s vital that Churches engage with politicians at every level. Meet your MP is a great way of doing that.”
Douglas Ross, MP for Moray, added:
“Meet your MP is a great scheme and I look forward to engaging with people from many of the churches throughout Moray. Our local congregations do fantastic work and I want to hear their views and act on their concerns to give them the best representation possible.”
Support partners from across Scotland
The Meet Your MP project is ecumenical and has already gained support from the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Baptist Union of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the United Free Church, the Quakers, the Congregational Federation in Scotland and the Salvation Army.
Further support for this latest project comes from Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees and Eco Congregation Scotland, as well as some of our church leaders and youth leaders from across The Church of Scotland.