Church leaders discuss challenges for Scotland with First Minister

Social isolation, loneliness and child poverty were the topics on the table at the annual Church Leader’s meeting with the First Minister.

For the first time church leaders were joined by young adults from their denominations to mark 2018 as the Year of Young People.Speaking after the meeting, Rt Rev Dr Browning, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, said:

“Faith communities play a significant part in the life of the country. The amount of ‘social capital’ provided by faith communities to the common weal of the nation is equally significant.”

The “unacceptable levels” of child and food poverty were addressed and the First Minister was urged to consider universal measures such as those set out by the Give Me Five campaign as “a matter of social urgency.”

Dr Browning added:

“Child poverty continues to be a scandal in our country.

“It was gratifying to hear that the Scottish Government will be making a comment on child poverty in the near future.

“I await with interest to see what this is, how it will impact some of the most vulnerable people in our country, and when it will be put into practice.”

The young people also made a valuable contribution to the meeting – speaking about their experiences of leadership within the church and the contribution that the younger generation make to the life and community service within all the denominations.

The discussion with Ms Sturgeon also focused on how work around the Year of Young People will continue in future years, a Scottish Government consultation on loneliness and isolation, dementia support and climate change.

Churches represented included the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, Scottish Episcopal Church, Methodist Church, Scottish Unitarian Association, the Congregational Federation in Scotland, the Quakers, the Salvation Army, the Baptist Union of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland.


L-R front row: Bishop Joseph Toal, Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Roman Catholic Church; Adwoa Bittle, Clerk of Quaker General Meeting for Scotland; Rebecca Fleming, Provincial Youth Committee, Scottish Episcopal Church; Moderator of the General Assembly The Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning, Church of Scotland; Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister; Olivia Smith, Provincial Youth Committee, Scottish Episcopal Church; Rev Dr David Easton, Methodist Church – Chair of the Districts of Scotland and Shetland; Alastair Moodie, Scottish Unitarian Association; Rev May-Kane Logan, Chair of the Congregational Federation in Scotland

L-R back row: Chloe Clemmons, Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer; Anthony Horan, Director of the RC Parliamentary Office; Ben Smith, Roman Catholic Church; The Most Revd Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church; Major Steven Turner, Salvation Army; Nicole Dempster, Stirling Baptist Church; Rev Matthew Ross, General Secretary of ACTS; Rachel Frost, Salvation Army; Moderator of the General Assembly Rev Ian Boa, United Free Church of Scotland; Rev Alan Donaldson, Director of the Baptist Union of Scotland.