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Home  >  News  >  Moderator Describes Sleep in the Park as 'Humbling and Moving'


Moderator Describes Sleep in the Park as 'Humbling and Moving'

Monday December 11 2017

The Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning with Church of Scotland members at Sleep in the Park

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has said that Saturday night’s mass sleep out in Edinburgh was ‘more than simply a gesture’.

Thousands of people spent one of the coldest nights of the year in Princes Street Garden, raising money for anti-homelessness projects. Among them were the Moderator, the Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning, and an estimated 1500 Church of Scotland members.

Social Bite, the social enterprise which organised the event, announced afterwards that £3.6m has been raised so far, and various organisations have pledged 500 homes for homeless people across the Central Belt.

Posting on Facebook yesterday morning (Sunday), Dr Browning wrote: “Will last night have ended homelessness for good? Probably not - sadly. But thousands more will be aware a little bit more of what fellow human beings will face night after night all the year round.

“It was humbling and moving to meet so many people from churches and other faith families, charity volunteers and politicians, young people and older people, country people and town people, people in groups and people on their own, all wanting to say something and do something to begin to help and to continue to help.

“Last night was more than simply a gesture, and was more than mere tokenism. Awareness was raised, or deepened, or came for the first time. I was reminded how many Church of Scotland charities (CrossReach, Borderline and ScotsCare) alongside so many other charities and groups, work all the year round to bring help.”

He added that homelessness, and the factors that lead to homelessness, were a challenge for churches and people of faith: “Homelessness is not simply the lack of a roof over your head.

“Homelessness is a symptom which has many root causes. Domestic abuse; relationship breakdown; unemployment; poverty; substance and alcohol addiction; poor mental health.

“If we are going to address homelessness we also need to address these and other issues in our communities, in our country, and in our churches.

“As my predecessor as Moderator, the Very Rev Dr Russell Barr, told the General Assembly in May, this issue and all its related issues, transcends party politics. It is a social, economic and broadly political issue, and the Church is grateful to him for the lead he continues to give in this area.

“It is an issue that, for those of us from the Christian faith, asks us to think again how we love, or fail to love, our neighbours as ourselves.”

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