Our very first guest blog comes from Liann Weir, Social Care Mission Officer for the Church of Scotland. Liann shares some of her thoughts on why the church is responding to the social care needs of those in their communities.
The Church of Scotland’s professional involvement in Social Care began in 1869 with the establishment of the Church’s Committee on Christian Life and Work. Since then, the church’s contribution to social care has evolved and adapted to mirror the ever evolving landscape of government policy and the changing needs of society. In 2016, the church continues to be at the heart of social care provision within communities, through the variety of services offered by CrossReach and also by the innovative and inspiring work undertaken by local congregations.
It is evident that many congregations across the country feel the stirring of the Holy Spirit, pushing them to do more, to give more and to be more to their communities. While many congregations feel a clear
missionary directive they can at times experience frustration when faced with the questions of why, where and how.
Through God’s transformative and healing power, we are guided to reach out to those in need. Our communities are a vibrant fusion of gifted and skilled individuals with unique stories and circumstances. Too often, the core conditions affecting human life stifle and suffocate the hidden jewels within our society. Poverty,illness and environmental threats can be overwhelming and while we as a church cannot always change these core conditions, we are equipped by the Spirit to walk alongside people, building resilient and well-equipped communities.
Over the last ten years, Scotland has changed dramatically and no matter where we are, if we each look around our communities, we can find people and families facing the same pressures: relationship breakdown, homelessness and housing issues, poverty, substance misuse, mental health problems, loneliness and disability.It is clear that while our communities are full of vibrancy and individuality, there are major issues affecting the life chances and life quality of those we see on a daily basis. Why should we take action and reach out to our communities? Because despite the difficult situations and circumstances, we desire to find those strengths, those assets and give them the support required to enable them to blossom and thrive.
Discerning precisely where God is calling us can be a challenge to the most established and well-resourced church. For many, the desire and the passion to go, to do and to serve stirs in hearts but raises the question of “where”. It is that same stirring of the spirit that often tells us God is calling us to be precisely where we are. If we look around at our communities we see ample opportunity to tell of Christ’s love and passion for his people. We also see ample opportunity to support our communities through social care initiatives.
Many churches throughout the country are responding to the emerging need for local social care initiatives and are engaging with their communities in unique and meaningful ways. Over the last few months I have had the privilege of meeting a great number of incredibly passionate and visionary individuals who belong to churches desperate to reach out to their communities, driven by their faith and stirred by the spirit. I look forward to meeting many more and walking part of this journey with them – what an honour indeed.