Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
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The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) was created in 1999. It is a multi-denominational organisation which exists to build fruitful relationships between the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government and religious groups in Scotland. In 2005, the remit was expanded to support the churches’ engagement with the UK Parliament and Government.
Scotland’s churches are a distinctive part of Scottish civic life. Together, they played a significant part in the movement which created the Scottish Parliament, and their commitment to the well-being of the nation has continued and developed since then.
The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office enables Scotland’s churches to:
- Engage effectively in the political process
- Translate their commitment to the welfare of Scotland into Parliamentary debate
- Contribute the range and depth of their experience to the decision-making process.
This is done through updates and briefings to MSPs and MPs; to faith groups, and by bringing people together for dialogue. Often, this is in partnership with other groups in Scottish civil society.
SCPO currently works with the following churches:
- Associated Presbyterian Church (APC)
- Baptist Union of Scotland
- Church of Scotland
- Congregational Federation
- Methodist Church in Scotland
- The Salvation Army
- Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
- Roman Catholic Church
- Scottish Episcopal Church
- Scottish Unitarian Association
- United Free Church of Scotland
- United Reformed Church
When first established, the SCPO was based at St Columba's by the Castle Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, before moving to The Netherbow (the Scottish Storytelling Centre) on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. It then shared offices with Scottish Churches Housing Action on Hanover Street in Edinburgh. It is now based at 121 George Street, Edinburgh.
Many churches in Scotland were strongly supportive of devolution. Before the new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood was completed in 2004, the Scottish Parliament met in the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland.
The first Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer (1999–2008) was the Revd Dr Graham Blount, who was formerly minister at Falkirk Old and St Modan's Parish Church. The current Parliamentary Officer (since 2009) is Ms Chloe Clemmons. The SCPO Research and Resource Development Officer is Ms Irene MacKinnon.