By the Rev Brian Casey, Springburn Parish Church of Scotland
Bishop Oscar Romero said that “the ones who have a voice must speak for those who are voiceless”.
I have spent the past six years in Springburn, with 150 funerals a year, 18,000 parishioners and real social deprivation, and I have found that a minister’s job is complex.
In Scotland, church and state are rightly separate. Last year I attended the House of Commons for a prayer breakfast, at which the then Speaker of the House, John Bercow, told the assembled clergy that the church was the only organisation that still held the Government’s feet to the fire.
Historically, the Church of Scotland chose not to be a state church. We make our own money and as such—and as Romero said—we speak out for those whom we serve.
I have fought for asylum seekers, and I have worked alongside members across the chamber to improve the lot of those caught in addiction.
Currently, we work with our MSP, Bob Doris, to ensure that our people are fed—our people. We share a common goal: the betterment of society and the security and health of members’ constituents and our parishioners. They are the same people.
I am not a politician and MSPs are not clergy, but together we can make an unstoppable force. The church will always speak out on issues that are affecting society, and so do members. The clergy care about the same people, in the same way as their MSPs. We see things that often go unseen, and hear things that often go unsaid to the general public. It is one of the privileges and, indeed, burdens of our jobs.
People confide things that they cannot tell others, and we fight on their behalf. Our church in Springburn, along with our parish priest, got together with community leaders following the Covid-19 outbreak.
We now run a food hub and a baby food bank. We deliver prescriptions and feed around 800 people a month. That was much easier to achieve with Government assistance and funding. The money that is given to us is used to feed the good folks of Springburn. That is partnership working in action, not church and state separate.
Christ was a radical who upturned the politics of his day. Many have followed, like Archbishop Romero, but in essence we want the same thing.
Presiding Officer, on the Parliament’s mace are the words “Wisdom, Compassion, Justice and Integrity”. We stand for the same things. We might be separate, but that does not stop us from working together for the common weal.