The Scottish Clergy against Nuclear Arms organisation (SCANA) held its second Easter Witness for Peace at Faslane on 31 March. The weather was beautiful and a large gathering from the various Christian churches met near the Faslane main gate, before walking behind a cross to the gates for the service. The walk was brightened by the flags and banners carried by, and by the singing of, the participants.
The church leaders present included Very Rev. Alan McDonald (former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland), Bishop Joseph Toal and Rev David Mumford, Dean of Brechin Cathedral. The Iona Community were to be represented by their leader, Rev Peter Macdonald, but his car broke down and he did not make it to the service. His part was taken by Kathy Galloway, head of Christian Aid Scotland. Justice & Peace were well represented by members from the dioceses of Argyll & the Isles, Glasgow, Motherwell and St. Andrews & Edinburgh, as well the National Commission and National Office.
The music for the service was to have been led and supported by Wild Goose Resources Group but roadworks on the A82 had led to ever lengthening traffic jams and they were unable to join us. However one Wild Goose (as Rev. David McLachlan put it) got through – Graham Maule, who proceeded to get the singing going.
Alan McDonald gave the reflection on the Gospel reading from the opening verses of Matthew chapter 7, challenging those in power on their right to stand on judgment on other countries, offering to take the “speck of sawdust” from their eyes when we ourselves had the “great plank” of the Trident system in our own eye. Kathy Galloway read poetry and the lone Wild Goose led us in more singing.
Bishop Toal thanked the organisers for the invitation to take part in the service, saying that, like many people probably, he had not given a lot of thought to government policy on defence but, prodded by the invitation to think more deeply about the issue, he had no doubt that nuclear arms were not acceptable. Quoting from the World Day of Peace messages of Pope Benedict and from the Ash Wednesday scripture readings, he said that we are called to be messengers of Christ’s peace to the world, to ease pain and suffering and work against their causes.
Bruce Kent of CND, a long time campaigner against nuclear weapons, spoke last. He joked that he never got to see the beauty of Scotland as he only ever saw the gates of Faslane. Highlighting the dangers of having weapons of such destructive power which were always at risk of accidents – witness the collision between two nuclear submarines in the middle of the Atlantic!- he challenged us that our imaginations had become dull and we did not recognise the dangers and the immorality of such weapons. In old-fashioned terms they were sinful.
In a symbolic gesture of community and love, bread and grape juice were shared among all present before the final prayers, and a wave to the security cameras.