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
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.