Church of Scotland to hold ambitious referendum event in September

The Church of Scotland is to hold an innovative referendum debate involving key figures from both sides of the campaign in a follow up to its successful demonstration of respectful dialogue at this year's General Assembly.

The dialogue in Glasgow will be streamed live online to 10 satellite events around the country, who will each incorporate it into their own discussions.

Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP and the Advocate General for Scotland, Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, will participate in a dialogue chaired by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Rt Rev John Chalmers on September 3rd at The St George's Tron Church in Glasgow.

Also on the panel will be Convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, and Rev Martin Johnstone, who is Priority Areas Secretary of the Church of Scotland and also Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland.

Mr Chalmers said: "How we conduct our discussions in the lead up to this vote will have a significant influence on how we build unity after we know the result.

"There is no hiding from it; this is one of the biggest decisions in Scotland's history and each of us must be ready to play our part in making it.

"While the Church of Scotland has committed to a position of neutrality on the referendum our congregations, our ministers and our members still have much to contribute to the substance of the discussion.

"The objective is not to take votes or make decisions, but to contribute some profound substance on how we as Christians can make sense of Scotland's future."

The audience will be made up of Church of Scotland members, as well as leaders from civic life and other religious denominations and faith groups.

The event will run in conjunction with ten other local dialogues at Church of Scotland venues across the country, who will use the content to stimulate their own discussions. It is anticipated more than a thousand people be able to participate in the evening, as well as the wider online audience.

In May this year the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was lauded as a 'model of debate' following a historic discussion on the independence referendum.

700 people, including members of the public, packed into the hall to take part in a respectful dialogue which demonstrated the Church of Scotland's long-standing tradition of reflecting on events of national significance.