Church leaders letter on Brexit

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Statement from Church Leaders and letter to European partners ahead of Brexit

Church leaders, including the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, have released a joint statement regarding the UK's imminent exit from the European Union. This was accompanied by a letter from the Church leaders addressed to partner Churches and Church organisations in Europe.

 

Statement from British Church leaders and representatives as the UK prepares to leave the European Union

We, the leaders and representatives of ten British Church denominations and networks, speak together as the UK prepares to leave the European Union on Friday 31 January 2020.

Three and a half years after the UK voted to leave the European Union, the point of departure has now been reached. The process of arriving at this point has been bruising and divisive. For some this date will mark the realisation of a long-held ambition and a moment of celebration. For others, however, it will be an occasion of great loss, marking the moment when deeply held desires for the nations of the UK are placed beyond reach.

Church members in good conscience continue to hold a wide range of views about Brexit. As Church leaders and representatives, we are united in wishing to seek God's guidance and a sense of common purpose as we move from this chapter of the Brexit process into the next.

As the UK leaves the EU there are important choices to be made about the values that we as a country live out. As Christians, we affirm our belief that all people are equally created in God's image. Our country should be one that offers sanctuary to refugees and is intolerant of those who hate because of a person's race or nationality. Both Leave and Remain campaigns agreed on this — we must now make it a reality.

The continuing challenges of the climate crisis, global inequality and conflict will require both resolve and close international cooperation to be addressed effectively.

We greatly value the love and friendship of our sisters and brothers in other European churches, and a group of us are writing to them publicly today to assure them that these relationships will continue. We also recognise that 31 January will bring uncertainty and anxiety to many EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. Leaving the EU cannot mean abandoning our responsibilities towards these families.

Brexit exposed and exacerbated divisions in British society. The deeply held convictions that fuelled the Brexit debate will not simply go away, but our Christian faith urges us to be people of peace and reconciliation. If the bitterness of the last four years is not to persist in polluting our national life, we will all need to resist the temptation to hold on onto the hurts of the past, or to act in ways which will be perceived as triumphalist.

We will only be able to move towards having a sense of common purpose, despite our differences, when we choose to act with kindness, humility and respect towards those with whom we disagree. We call on our political leaders to set an example over the next weeks and months as we move towards negotiations which will require further decisions about priorities for the nations of the UK.

For our part, our Churches will be working and praying for:

a society where the poorest and most marginalised are at the centre
a society that welcomes the stranger
a just economy that enables the flourishing of all life
a planet where the environment is renewed
a world which actively works for peace
a politics characterised by listening, kindness and truthfulness.
Revd Dr Barbara Glasson and Professor Clive Marsh, President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference

Revd David Mayne, Moderator of Council, Baptist Union of Great Britain

The Right Revd Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Revd Nigel Uden and Mr Derek Estill, Moderators of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church

Most Revd Father Olu Abiola OBE and Archbishop Fidelia Onyuku-Opukiri, Council of African and Caribbean Churches UK

Yvonne Campbell, General Secretary, on behalf of the Council of the Congregational Federation

Revd Dr Noel A Davies, Chair, Cytûn: Churches Together in Wales' Working Party on Wales and Europe

Bishop Simon Iheanacho, Overseer, UK World Evangelism Churches Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain

Most Revd Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church

 

An open letter from Churches in Britain to Churches in member states of the European Union

Dear sisters and brothers

At 11pm GMT on Friday the 31st of January 2020, the United Kingdom will no longer be a member of the European Union. The UK is leaving the EU, but we are not leaving Europe.

Our Churches have contributed to and been enriched by the Christian tradition in Europe for centuries. The early evangelists to these islands came with the Roman empire. They were followed by the missions of St Augustine of Canterbury (who came originally from what is now Italy) and St Columba of Iona (from what is now Ireland). The faith of Christians in these islands has from the earliest days had its roots in the European Church. The impact of the Reformation in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands has contributed significantly to the Churches, societies and nations of our islands, an impact that is still felt to this day. We have congregations of our Churches in many cities in Europe and we maintain close fellowship with partner Churches across our continent. We are, and will always be, European Churches, as part of the worldwide church.

The diminishing of political ties and accountability will not affect or impede our commitment to our partners in other parts of Europe. We will continue to play a full and active part in European ecumenical organisations and we will support our congregations and partners in other parts of Europe.

Our Churches will continue to promote the values we share with you, to promote peace and protect human rights and dignity.

We will continue to pursue the concerns we share with you, to ensure the welfare of all citizens and that our Governments are held to account for issues about security, freedom and the sharing of prosperity.

We will continue to work with you on the great challenges of our time; how European nations respond to forced migration, and how we adapt and respond to the climate crisis.

We will continue to remain committed to the principles of solidarity, that have bound us together for many years and to which we must hold fast in a time of increasing xenophobia, religious discrimination, wealth inequality and national self-interest.

We have appreciated your support and interest in our situation in recent years, and we ask you to stay with us as we learn what our future holds, and how we can work together to offer hope and reconciliation to all our communities as we seek to follow Jesus in our everyday living.

Please pray for us, as we will pray for you.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body', that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body', that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you', nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in

love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:1-6

Yours in Christ

Revd Dr Barbara Glasson and Professor Clive Marsh, President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference

Revd David Mayne, Moderator of Council, Baptist Union of Great Britain

The Right Revd Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Revd Nigel Uden and Mr Derek Estill, Moderators of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church

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