The Scottish Churches Rural Group (SCRG), which brings together churches within ACTS with rural interests, has attempted to tease out from the Census figures a rural orientated analysis.
Our report on the Census has a dual focus. We have looked at the church as it is now and assessed what we think are its ramifications for the future. We ask, what are the trends we currently see in the rural church? What conclusions can we draw? And what action needs to be taken to ensure a thriving future for rural ministry?
The information from the Census is not the only information which has recently become available. In 2016 Steve Aisthorpe published the results of a study he had undertaken into why some Christians no longer go to church, under the title 'The Invisible Church: Learning from the Experiences of Churchless Christians'.
In our report we have also tried to make use of this information in order to come to conclusions as to the way ahead, using all the information which has recently become available.
The World Council of Churches celebrates its 70th anniversary on 23rd August 2018. Prayers and songs are available for congregations and groups to use.
Link to the main WCC website: http://www.oikoumene.org/en
Link to the WCC 70th anniversary web pages: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/wcc70/
Link to worship resources: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/wcc70/prayers-and-songs
Created in 1948, the World Council of Churches is a Christian organisation dedicated to the search for Christian unity. It is a voluntary fellowship (association) of 348 member churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour. Churches in the fellowship of the WCC pursue the vision of ecumenism as they:
- seek visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship;
- promote common witness in work for mission and evangelism;
- engage in Christian service by meeting human need, breaking down barriers between people, seeking justice and peace, and upholding the integrity of creation.
The aim of the WCC is to pursue the goal of the visible unity of the Church. This involves a process of renewal and change in which member churches pray, worship, discuss and work together.
The Fellowship of Kilmarnock Churches has arranged for Ivy Blair of the Prospects charity to deliver a workshop on how to enable Churches become more inclusive. It will take place at the Howard Centre in Kilmarnock on Saturday, 21st April, from 2 to 4 p.m. There is no charge for the event.
Vacancy announcement: Search for CCME General Secretary
The Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe CCME is seeking a replacement for the General Secretary who oversees and implements the operations in line with the work programme of the Commission and reports to the Executive Committee and the Assembly of CCME. The General Secretary will lead a small team in the secretariat, and relate to other organisations, particularly the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches.
This years Racial Justice Service will take place at Cardonald Parish Church, 2155 Paisley Road West, Glasgow, G52 3PF.
Hear the words of Martin Luther King on the 50th Anniversary of his death.
The service starts at 4 pm with refreshments to follow.
Conference Report: More Slaves Today than at any Time in Human History
The conference was held on Saturday 7th October 2017 and attended by over 100 people. The programme for the day comprised plenary papers from a range of invited speakers and parallel sessions where researchers and practitioners presented their work. The conference concluded with a panel discussion when representatives of a range of different Christian denominations responded to questions from the floor and discussed key issues that had arisen during the day.
The opening address was given by MSP Ash Denham who is Co-Convener of the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on human trafficking and exploitation. She stated that the buying and selling of human beings is now the second most lucrative illegal business in the world and highlighted the work of the Scottish Government over recent years in introducing legislation to tackle this problem.
Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston, who is the head of the National Human Trafficking Unit, gave a plenary paper in which he stated that, in 2016, 159 cases had been referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which is the process by which people who have been trafficked can gain help and support. 26% of them were juveniles. Vietnam was the country from which the largest number of people are trafficked into Scotland. The point was made that the number of people referred to the NRM probably represents only a fraction of the number of people who are trafficked. However, because of the illicit nature of human trafficking, actual numbers cannot be determined. DS Houston stated that car washes and nail bars, the agriculture sector and the fisheries industry were highlighted as areas where trafficked victims have been forced to work.
We also heard from Sam Poling, an investigative journalist with BBC Scotland, whose television programme, 'Humans for Sale, was broadcast in May 2017. Sam travelled across Eastern Europe to track down victims sold to Glasgow gangs in sham marriages and for sex. She described scenes of extreme poverty and deprivation of the places where the women came from and the misery of their existence, contrasting this with the luxury in which the alleged traffickers appeared to live. She challenged us, saying that our consumerist society makes us all complicit in the exploitation experienced by victims of trafficking. While we all like a bargain, she suggested that we often silently look away. When we get the cheap car wash/nail polish/newly laid driveway at a knock-down price, are not we too complicit?
Time constraints dictated that presentation of the remaining papers should be given during parallel sessions. We heard from postgraduate students, academic staff, and practitioners who reported on their work in Russia, Thailand and Africa as well as here in Scotland.
One session focused on the contribution of the legal professions, with the first presentation given by Jennifer Escott. She described on a project in which she provided support to the legal infrastructure in rural areas in the north of Malawi by training paralegals and also representing victims of human trafficking and other forms of abuse. This was followed by Dr Anni Pues who highlighted the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in addressing human trafficking, citing cases in Libya, Uganda and Nigeria. The final presentation in this session was from Louise Crichton who described the legal process that victims of human trafficking undergo in the UK with regards the National Referral Mechanism and compared this with the asylum seeking process.
The papers that were presented concurrently by Professor Mary Buckley of Cambridge University, Dr Glenn Miles, and PhD student Shawna Warner related to human trafficking in Russia, Thailand and north north-east Asia. It was striking that many factors are common to human trafficking in each of these countries and include cultural norms, gender discrimination, disability, ethnicity, poverty, and complicit government and law enforcement officials.
Dr Paul Rigby discussed support services available in Scotland to children who are exploited through trafficking. He contended that at present they are subject to a bureaucratic process of identification and labelling through the National Referral Mechanism, which is not child focused, and labels them first and foremost as victims of trafficking rather than children with a wide range of needs and risks.
Rebekah Brown, a medical student at the University of Dundee, reported a study of medical students' knowledge of human trafficking and its potential health effects. She reported significant positive improvements in their knowledge following a training programme.
Osasare Igbinomwar is a PhD student at the University of Stirling who conducted a study in his home country of Nigeria. He pointed out that the people who are trafficked are not the only victims, suggesting out that families and entire nations can suffer. He claimed that Nigeria's entire population is also threatened and exploited, with young people unable to attain their full potentials, adding to development challenges for developing source countries like Nigeria in Sub Sahara Africa.
The final item on the conference programme was a panel discussion amongst members of the audience and speakers from three different Christian denominations. Speakers on the panel were Dr Carrie Pemberton Ford, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Applied Research in Human Trafficking, Dr Marion Carson, Chair of the European Federation Anti-Trafficking Network and a member of the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group, and Professor Hazel Watson, former Convener of the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group.
The ensuing discussion threw up more questions than answers. Among the topics explored were the scale and complexity of the problem, the need for inter-agency dialogue as well as ecumenical and inter-faith co-operation and communication. We were challenged to reflect on the contradiction between some biblical teaching that apparently condones and accepts slavery, and the fact that God loves us all equally and that Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and to set the captives free.
The day concluded with a vote of thanks and prayer led by the Reverend William Young, a member of the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group.
Presentations from the event
Please find below copies of the presentations of the following participants:
The Vigil of St Andrew
Celebrate Scotland's National Day
Wednesday 29th November, 7pm
Our Lady of Lourdes Church
51 Lourdes Ave,
Music led by 'the St Mungo Singers ensemble and Harp with
Pupils from St Andrew's Secondary
Refreshments to Follow
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
16 days of action
25th November – 10th December
This is an on-going action much needed when ' Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. In many countries there is a culture of impunity for those who carry out this kind of violence. It is seen as normal, acceptable, and even Christian churches very often hide, tolerate, perpetuate and even practice violence against women' – Kathy Galloway writing for Side by Side.
Talks and Workshops and Vigils
28th November on FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
with Hilary Burrage (author and member of Global Media Campaign to end FGM),
and Wura Ogunrotimi ...... of KWISA (African Women in Scotland)
1st December on WOMEN AND POWER –
with Clare Phillips of Castle Douglas Meeting, who stood for the Green
Party in Holyrood elections,
and Helen Minnis of Glasgow Meeting consultant paediatric psychiatrist in the NHS.
Both if the above at Glasgow Quaker Meeting House, 38, Elmbank Crescent,
6.30 food sharing then 7pm talks and interaction.
5th December UNDERAGE MARRIAGE
With Judy Wasige and Juliet from KWISA
at Robertson House, 152 Bath Street, Glasgow
6.30 food sharing then 7pm talks and interaction.
Vigils – Thursdays in Black 30th November & 7th December 12.30 – 1pm at Donald Dewar Statue
Towards a world without rape and violence.
Wearing black on Thursdays shows others that you are tired of putting up with violence and calls for communities where we can all walk safely without fear.
Follow-on Workshop – Alternatives to Violence
16th December 2pm Held at Glasgow Quaker Meeting House.
World Day of Prayer takes place on Friday 2 March 2018.
World Day of Prayer is an international, ecumenical, prayer movement initiated and carried out by Christian women in more than 180 countries and over 1000 languages.
The 2018 service has been written by Christian women of Suriname.
The ACTS Advent Reflections for 2017 have been written by ALTERnativity.