Mar­i­lyn Shed­den, Mod­er­a­tor of the Pres­bytery of Ar­gyll, and Rev Dr Ken­neth Ross, past Mod­er­a­tor

REF­ER­EN­DUM SPE­CIAL: Com­mu­nity lead­ers share their views ahead of de­ci­sion day on the Euro­pean Union

The Oban Times - - News -

WHEN the Pres­bytery of Ar­gyll met at A’Ch­lèit Church, near Muas­dale, on June 7, it was con­scious that the UK stands on the brink of one of the big­gest po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions of our life­time.

Look­ing ahead to the ref­er­en­dum on mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union to be held on June 23, the pres­bytery gave thanks for the work of the Euro­pean Union in promoting peace, se­cu­rity and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion among Euro­pean na­tions, noted that the UK has been part of the Euro­pean Union since 1973 and ex­pressed its be­lief that the UK should re­main in the EU.

The po­si­tion the pres­bytery has taken is very much in line with that of the Church of Scot­land Gen­eral As­sem­bly, which ex­presses the mind of the church at na­tional level. How­ever, it is also in­formed by our par­tic­u­lar con­text in Ar­gyll.

Mem­bers re­flected on the ob­ser­vance of Re­mem­brance Sun­day through­out Ar­gyll. Many of us find ourselves at war memo­ri­als in very small vil­lages where the list of those who sac­ri­ficed their lives in the wars is very long. When we think of what the loss of so many young men meant for our com­mu­ni­ties, one con­so­la­tion is to re­mem­ber that the young sol­diers met the cri­sis of their times by go­ing to fight in or­der to se­cure a last­ing peace.

Their sac­ri­fice lays on us the re­spon­si­bil­ity to se­cure that peace. The Euro­pean Union is a pri­mary in­stru­ment when it comes to sus­tain­ing peace in Europe and is, there­fore, some­thing to be cher­ished.

Mem­bers re­flected also on Ar- gyll’s Chris­tian his­tory. The first Chris­tians in Ar­gyll – Columba and friends – put down deep lo­cal roots but they also had a wide and out­ward-look­ing vi­sion. They set out to share the trans­form­ing Gospel of Christ with neigh­bours near and far.

At a time when Europe was frag­mented into eth­nic groups who could not un­der­stand each other, and were of­ten hos­tile to­wards each other, the Ar­gyll-based Chris­tian move­ment was a force for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. To­day that kind of vi­sion is needed more than ever and the EU pro­vides a ve­hi­cle for mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and com­mon cause.

None of this is to claim that the Euro­pean Union is per­fect. But when short­com­ings are iden­ti­fied, our re­spon­si­bil­ity is not to walk away in de­spair but to join hands with those who are working hard to re­solve them.

The Pres­bytery is not in the busi­ness of telling peo­ple how to vote but on this great ques­tion of our time it has clearly en­dorsed the view of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly: that re­main­ing in the EU is the best op­tion for the UK at this time.

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