People of the Way - annual report and accounts 2015 published

Annual Report 2015

The Church of Scotland's Annual Report and Accounts for 2015 has been published and provides an insight into the deep breadth of work carried out at home and abroad.

It is titled People of the Way, a description given to the followers of Jesus since the time of St Paul, according to the Rev Dr Grant Barclay, Convener of the Council of Assembly.

He said they were people who were notable for their worship, the generosity of their welcome, and the care they provided – characteristics that are still alive and well within the Kirk in 2016.

Dr Barclay, in a foreword to the report, said: "In 2015 the Church of Scotland was supported by members of local congregations and received grants and other income which allowed us to spend £106 million on parish resourcing and providing high-quality care services for those in need.

"This Annual Review highlights some of the Church's work over the last twelve months and provides details of resources received and spent, all in accordance with the latest accounting standards.

"I hope some of the stories you'll read here will inspire you to see what these people have achieved, not for their own sake but – inspired by faith – to enrich communities, care for vulnerable neighbours, speak out for justice, engage in creative and fruitful partnerships and provide Christian worship and service across Scotland and beyond."

Duty of care

The report states that the Church responded generously to the needs of refugees and was instrumental in setting up Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees.

The project seeks to co-ordinate and promote action by faith communities in Scotland to support asylum seekers and refugees and it has provided the initial seed funding to employ a co-ordinator.

"Refugees are, beyond question, vulnerable," states the report.

"It is our duty to care for them and also to attempt to ensure that we challenge rhetoric in politics and the media which demeans refugee and asylum seekers or which seeks to exploit that very vulnerability."

The report said an emerging theme for the Church is capacity building in local congregations.

"We facilitated that by the payment of grants from the Go for It Fund, which awarded just over £1 million in 2015," it stated.

"And through the funding of projects run by Ministries Priority Areas such as Chance to Thrive, which supports and mentors congregations in the poorest parishes, showing how churches, with local people leading, can play a key role in neighbourhood regeneration."

Poverty and social isolation

The report said Go For It funded 123 projects across Scotland in 2015, employing over 180 staff, using the talents of 1,600 local volunteers and reaching out to over 25,000 beneficiaries.

These included Hot Chocolate Trust, a youth project based in the city centre of Dundee, operating from the Steeple Church.

It provides drop-in facilities and a whole range of other activities and support, working closely in partnership with the youngsters themselves.

The Givin' it Laldie community music project was set up by Gorbals Parish Church in Glasgow in response to the social and health issues affecting the area.

The project uses singing and music as a medium to help address issues of poverty, social isolation and poor health, and seeks to use music to help address local divisions within the community.

Nepal

Another recipient of Go For It funding is the Dornoch Firth Project which works with volunteers who are involved in delivering a wide range of services to young and old, those with learning difficulties, families, and the community at large.

Fundraising initiatives that congregations have been involved in include Souper Sunday, helping to bring in £43,000 for the HIV Programme in 2015 and £29,000 for 'A Place at the Table', for Syrian refugee projects in Lebanon, which has now raised £99,000 in total.

Following an earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, the World Mission Council started a new project 'Let Us Build A House' and has so far collected £24,000 – enough to build 47 houses.