SCPO News: September 2016

EVENTSmaureen-watMental Health minister visits Church of Scotland National Youth Assembly

On 21 August, the Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt MSP, visited the National Youth Assembly of the Church of Scotland. One of the NYA’s themes this year was Mental Health, and the Minister responded to young people openly sharing their stories on the subject.

She said: “We need to be as comfortable speaking about mental health as we are about physical health.”

german-visitors-sept-2016-x1 German pastors tour the Scottish Parliament

On Friday 9 September a group of eight ministers from Hesse, Germany visited Scotland for a week and SCPO took them to the Scottish Parliament. After a tour of the building, Chloe Clemmons and Irene MacKinnon of SCPO talked to the group about the political situation in Scotland in the light of Brexit.

The group included six senior ministers working as area Deansthey are responsible for congregations and ministers compatible to a presbytery, and one senior minister compatible to a regional bishop in a Lutheran church. They were joined by an officer for religious dialogue, Friedhelm Pieper, who works on relations between Christians and Jewish congregations.

scpo-in-sco-parl-x7Work of SCPO praised by the Scottish Parliament

SCPO held their first meeting of the new parliamentary session at the Scottish Parliament on 21 September. The group were hosted by MSP Jeremy Balfour, and MSPs Murdo Fraser, Margaret Mitchell and John Mason popped in to say hello. After the event, Jeremy Balfour lodged the following motion praising the work of SCPO.

“That the Parliament recognises the work of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) and its ecumenical role in creating connections between churches across Scotland and their political representatives; notes that the SCPO recently held its first meeting of the current parliamentary session in the Parliament, which was hosted by Jeremy Balfour, at which MSPs attended; congratulates the office for the work that it has undertaken since 1999 in maintaining good relationships between churches and MSPs, and hopes that this will continue for many years to come.”

mym-bob-doris-mspMeet Your MSP project

The Meet Your MSP project has taken off over the summer with around 50 meetings so far between MSPs and their local congregations. The project seeks to build links between congregations and their recently elected MSPs.

SCPO has contacted and met with MSPs from across the political spectrum and all are keen to be linked up with their local churches. This project is ongoing, so please let us know if there are churches within your denomination that have reached out to their local MSPs and arranged meetings, coffee morning appearances, visits to local projects or something similar.

Pictured above is Irene MacKinnon of SCPO with Bob Doris, MSP for Maryhill and Springburn.

Please get in touch detailing who you are meeting and what is planned. Please take pictures and post on Twitter using #meetyourmsp Posters, fact sheets and all other information is available at our website here

GUEST WRITER – Rev Donald McCorkindalejohn-finnie-and-kate-forbes-msps

Peninsula Parishes meet their MSPs

I thought the Meet Your MSP initiative was a helpful catalyst to develop links with our MSPs. I think it also gave permission for churches to be involved in politics.
In August, we had one shared gathering for the five ‘peninsula parishes’ to meet Kate Forbes (SNP) and John Finnie (Green).  I am minister for Ardgour, Morvern, and Strontian, and Rev Fiona Ogg is minister at Acharacle and Ardnamurchan.
Ours was a fairly small gathering with about 16 people, most of whom had a church connection. Conversation touched on local issues – Corran Ferry fares, education, rural issues of staff retention, affordable housing, and also on the wider issue of community empowerment, and the role of faith communities.
Having fixed up a suitable date with Kate Forbes, we also invited the list MSPs. John Finnie was able to join us, others sent apologies, and some expressed the hope that there would be future events.
I am Presbytery Clerk for Lochaber and I hope that other congregations in the Presbytery might consider hosting similar events. From a networking point of view it was very helpful, and has paved the way to increased future engagement in church and community projects.

For more on the visit click here


Public consultations are published on the Scottish Government website here

The Church of Scotland has responded to the following consultations in the past couple of months –

Responses to these consultations will feature on the Scottish Government consultation pages in due course.

There is currently an ongoing consultation from the Scottish Government on Social Security. The Church of Scotland and the Salvation Army are each working on responses to these respectively.

To host your own event and conversation on social security, find an event pack here


Good Money Week is an annual campaign (30 October – 5 November) to let people know that they have sustainable and ethical options in their financial decisions.

This year the Church of Scotland is partnering with Shared Interest, EthicalFutures, Rathbone Greenbank and Triodos Bank to host ‘Make Your Money Count’. The event brings together some of the UK’s leading ethical investment organisations to mark Good Money Week, and will explore key issues around how we invest our money and give practical ideas on how to make it work harder.

‘Make Your Money Count’ will be held on Thursday 3 November at 10am at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, Edinburgh. Places are free.

Book online at and/or email  for more information.  For a flyer click here


Current petition: Mental Health Services in Scotland

All petitions in the Scottish Parliament can be viewed here


We would like to invite denominations to contribute articles for future monthly newsletters. Please contact SCPO at if this is something that you would be interested in doing. It could relate to an issue that is politically current or tie in with events highlighting a specific cause.

We would also like to encourage groups to share the information enclosed in their newsletters and online – and please let us know if you do!


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