Church Leaders and Representatives meet the First Minister
For SCPO the New Year started with a meeting between the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, and church leaders and representatives from 10 Scottish denominations. This annual meeting is a chance for representatives of Scottish churches to go into the parliament to share stories about the work of SCPO and discuss some of the issues that are important to society 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.
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.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale tried her hand at woodwork during a visit to an innovative social enterprise project in Edinburgh this month as part of the Meet Your MSP project.
Ms Dugdale visited the Grassmarket Community Project and hailed it as a great example of how a congregation had reimagined how it supports people in the local community.
The meeting had been set up so that the Edinburgh MSP could meet one of her local constituents Rev Dr Richard Frazer of Greyfriars Kirk where the Grassmarket initiative was first envisaged.
She said: “The Grassmarket Community Project is a great social enterprise project but it is also reimagining what churches can do in their communities. I am getting actively involved in it through the Meet Your MSP project.”
Dr Frazer, who is also convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, said Ms Dugdale is a regular visitor to the Grassmarket Community Project and a “great supporter”.
Churches from all denominations are invited to get involved in a new project exploring different ways of making funding decisions in their communities.
The project, funded by the Scottish Government, will provide training and advice to enable each congregation to host an open event in their area in which local people will decide how to distribute funding to organisations in their community. Local decision making is at the heart of a participatory budgeting process, and this project is intended to enable communities to learn new skills, try them out together and reflect on what they have learned.
The Participatory Budgeting Project is looking for up to 10 congregations across Scotland to work with until March 2017. More information about Participatory Budgeting is available here
If you are interested in being involved or in finding out more, please contact Chloe Clemmons on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 240 2276.