CHURCH leaders have been reacting to the news, announced early
this morning, that Scotland has voted to stay in the UK. Fifty-five
per cent of Scots voted no in yesterday's referendum, with a record
turnout of 84.5 per cent.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said in a statement that Scotland's
decision "will be welcomed by all those who believe that this
country can continue to be an example of how different nations can
work together for the common good within one state". He also said
that this was a time for "reconciliation and healing, not rejoicing
He went on: "Some of the wounds opened up in recent months are
likely to take time to heal on both sides of the border. The Church
of England, the Church of Scotland, and the Scottish Episcopal
Church should play a mediating part as the UK grapples with
reshaping the relationships between its constituent nations,
Archbishop Welby said.
This call was echoed by the Moderator of the General Assembly of
the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd John Chalmers. The
discussion,he said, had to move from "us and them" to only
"Today, I particularly care about those who feel as if they are
on the wrong side of this outcome," he said. "So I expect those on
the winning side to go out of their way to avoid triumphalism, and
to be inclusive in their plans for Scotland's future, and to take
the time to assure those who are anxious, disappointed, and down
that they understand how they must feel."
Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Mr Chalmers recounted the
story of Jacob and Esau - their bitter enmity, and, later, their
magnanimous reconciliation. "The untold energy of people who love
Scotland and care about its future has been used on both sides of
this debate," he said.
"And, make no mistake about it, such magnanimity will release
enormous creativity. And Scotland's future will be safe."
Speaking on behalf of the Scottish Episcopal Church's College of
Bishops, the Primus, the Most Revd David Chillingworth, said: "We
commit ourselves to working with all the people of Scotland as our
relationships with our neighbours continue to evolve.
"We hold particularly in our hearts and in our prayers today
those for whom this decision brings a feeling of hopes dashed and
vision lost. With our partner Churches, and all in the faith
communities, we pledge ourselves to work for reconciliation, and
pray for healing in our community."
The Free Church of Scotland has said that Scots must look beyond
"self-interest" and focus on creating a more "just and caring
In a joint statement, the chairman of the Church's board of
trustees and a former Moderator, the Revd James MacIver, said:
"Much of the debate of the past two years has been focused on
self-interest. We would now like the focus to shift to the
needs of others.
"The place of Christianity in the public place is the key
to resolving . . . social ills, and we would welcome the
opportunity to work alongside the Scottish government in pursuit of
A statement from the Scottish Roman Catholic bishops commended
Scots for their participation in "what was a passionate and
sometimes partisan debate". They went on: "We urge the Catholic
community to continue to engage in public debate and
decision-making, and, in doing so, to uphold the meaning and
importance of the Christian message. May God bless Scotland."
The director of Evangelical Alliance Scotland, Fred Drummond,
said: "As Scots now consider what kind of nation will now emerge
from this campaign, the Church must lead - and be allowed to lead -
the way to ensure the new Scotland is one that reflects God's
values in the economy, the family, our communities, and our
The Christian gospel provides the "catalyst for reconciliation",
and the Church must heal divisions within families, friendships,
and workplaces, Mr Drummond said.
In Glasgow, one of only four local-authority areas to vote yes,
the Provost of the town's Episcopal cathedral, the Very Revd Kelvin
Holdsworth, said that although he voted no, he had much in common
with the aspirations of the pro-independence movement.
"We have disagreed about how to achieve change, but there are
values that have come to the fore, largely through the incredible
campaign that the Yes side have fought, that we can unite around,"
he wrote on his blog this morning.
"Those of us in Scotland have decided that we don't want to
leave the United Kingdom. However, let the message ring out that no
one who voted yesterday wants to live in Foodbank Britain.
"One of the members of my own congregation, who is one of the
strongest supporters of the Yes campaign I know, said to me
yesterday, 'Even if it is No, Yes has won'. He meant, I think, that
the positivity of the Yes campaign can't be killed off, and that
constitutional change is coming anyway."