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Church of Scotland admits historic slavery links

by Premier Journalist
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Church of Scotland

The Church of Scotland has published a report outlining its historical involvement in the slave trade and proposing an official apology.

The Faith Impact Forum report found that some ministers and elders had acquired their wealth through the trading of slaves and some buildings, such as Glasgow Cathedral, have memorials to plantation owners.

The church's fund was also found to be connected to compensation paid to a family after the abolition of slavery.

"In many cases we do not see clearly defined direct relationships between slave ownership and the Church of Scotland, although slavery related connections between Scotland and the Caribbean clearly abound.

"We have learned that there is architectural evidence of connections to slavery within some of our church buildings, although it is not believed to be as wide spread as first thought,” the report reads.

It continued: "There are some examples where the Church or ministers can be seen to have benefitted directly from the profits of slavery.

"What we do see are many instances where money was left to ministers and kirk sessions to distribute amongst the parish or to be used for philanthropic causes."

Among those church leaders and parishes who benefitted from slave trade, the report includes Very Rev Angus MacKellar, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1840 and Rev Peter Robertson, a minister at Callander.

The report, which covered a 131-year period and was ordered by the General Assembly in 2020, will be presented to the General Assembly next month.

The General Assembly has been advised to release a public apology and create a dedicated website about the church's ties to the slave trade.

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