The Scottish Parliament has congratulated churches for their dedication to supporting people throughout the pandemic.
They praised churches during a debate on Monday about the Stories of Hope report. The report, published last December by the Evangelical Alliance and Serve Scotland calculated that churches across Scotland had delivered 212,214 acts of support during the first lockdown and that these acts were delivered by 3,212 volunteers and impacted 55,671 beneficiaries.
The motion, which has been submitted by Jeremy Balfour, acknowledged that “churches in 180 locations across Scotland worked in partnership with key stakeholders, including supermarkets, community councils, NHS boards, food banks, voluntary support groups and charities, to deliver services to support vulnerable groups, including older, homeless and young people; recognises the important role that it considers churches and charities play in communities across Scotland, including in the Lothian region, and praises all those involved in delivering these services during the pandemic."
The report found churches across Scotland had developed support networks and created projects to support the most vulnerable and isolated in their communities. The projects spanned across the country from the Highlands to the Borders. They were also across diverse church denominations and in partnership with a number of charities including CAP Scotland, the Bethany Trust, and Glasgow City Mission.
Kieran Turner, public policy officer for the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland said:“Often the work of churches in the community goes under-reported and as a result government and parliament are not aware of the role of the church in wider society. We are grateful to Jeremy and to all the MSPs who are supporting the debate for the opportunity to show how the church spreads hope and the impact that has been made at a national level during the pandemic.”
The report also highlighted the importance of churches partnering with local businesses and other agencies. More than two-thirds of the projects were delivered in partnership to provide support to those in need. Examples include supermarkets, community councils, businesses, NHS boards, housing associations, voluntary support groups, and food. In addition, eleven local authorities were identified, sometimes by multiple projects, as providing emergency funding for weekly support costs.
Turner continued: “Having the Scottish Parliament debate the report and commend these churches will raise awareness and challenge perceptions of what the church is and what the church does in Scotland. The church is a force for good in Scotland and operates at a scale of national significance meaning it must be a core part of the government's rebuilding plans post pandemic."