First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with 11 church leaders and representatives this week to discuss some of the issues facing Scotland today.
The meeting focused on social care needs for an aging population and the particular challenges faced by those with dementia and their carers. Many churches are working to become dementia friendly and the meeting explored what more churches could do to help meet this need.
Following the annual meeting, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon praised the significant role that faith communities play in Scotland.
“It is welcome that Scotland is becoming a more diverse country, particularly with free movement of people from other parts of Europe to Scotland, and the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers. Each group of people bring their own cultural identities, faiths and background. Scotland is a place where we celebrate our differences, while recognising the many things that unite us and where people of all races, faiths and background feel safe and respected.
“It is important that everyone is open to each other’s values and it is essential that we safeguard our shared vision of a multicultural, open and tolerant Scotland. Our faith communities play a significant role here, and abroad, and we welcome their contribution and input into our nation’s civic life to enrich us all.”
During the meeting there was also discussion about the importance of community cohesion and freedom of religion and conscience. Church leaders highlighted Home Office immigration restrictions and their impact on international church relations, and spoke about the Meet Your MSP Project which encourages churches to get to know their elected representatives.
Chloe Clemmons, Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer, explained the value of the meetings, adding:
“Churches are an active and valuable part of communities across Scotland; I am delighted that church leaders and representatives have this opportunity to share stories about some of the work we are doing locally with the First Minister in the coming year.”