Responses to the EU Referendum

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From the Methodist Church

The Methodist Church has responded to the result of the referendum to leave the EU with a joint statement from the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference and reflections from the Joint Public Issues Team.

The Revd Steve Wild and Dr Jill Barber, the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, have released the following joint statement following the EU referendum.

The people have spoken through the democratic process. We recognise that the result will cause pain to some people who voted with passion and integrity and that now is the time to move forward together with goodwill. The structures have changed but our hopes for a fair, just and equal society continue. We must now gather the political will to tackle poverty, climate change and the refugee crisis.

This Referendum has shown both the best and the worst of our democracy. It is to be celebrated that major constitutional change has happened peacefully and transparently; something that is all too rare in the world even today. We are saddened that the referendum debate has at times promoted feelings of fear and even hatred and racism. We do not believe that most people, however they voted in the referendum, wanted this. It certainly does not represent the kind of country that Britain wants to be. We must be careful now that these narratives do not shape the way that we do politics in the future.

As the future of our role in the EU is negotiated, we cannot cut ourselves off from Europe. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Europe, and particular in our sister Churches, and assure them that our love and commitment towards them is undiminished.

From The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT)

The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) have issued the following reflection and prayer. JPIT works with the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church, Baptist Union and the Church of Scotland on issues of justice and inequality.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

This week the people of the UK have made the significant decision to leave the European Union. Across our communities, including in churches, some will face this with dismay; others with celebration. We are already seeing some of the political consequences, including the decision by David Cameron to stand down as Prime Minister later this year.

The pattern of voting has revealed differences within the British people which will be interpreted in various ways. These should not become the tools of division, but spur us to find the common resolve and respect to overcome them. Together we are facing a time of significant change.

Whatever view we might hold about the referendum result, this is a time to recognise that the wellbeing of the UK and its people does not solely depend on its place in the European Union. Fairness and justice for all were never going to be the automatic consequences of being inside or outside a particular institution. They will only become realities if, as a country and as citizens, we intentionally pursue them both at home and abroad.
Our aims for the kind of society we want to live in remain the same. People disagreed whether the kinds of issues we will continue to face — climate change, peace and security, sustainable agriculture, welfare, trade and the movement of people — would be better dealt with by being in or out. We have voted for out. But the aim of pursuing a just society has not changed. After months of sometimes damaging debate we must recommit ourselves to work together for the common good.
Many of the issues we face cannot be effectively addressed in isolation from our near neighbours or indeed worldwide partners. While the structures may change our work towards justice and peace must continue alongside our European sisters and brothers.

We believe that every human being is made in the image of God. Any narrative that undermines this, or promotes division and discrimination, runs contrary to the values of God's Kingdom. Our prayer is that we might turn away from the language of fear or self-interest and recommit to this sense of our common humanity.

We now face an inevitable process of change, and with that will come uncertainty. As a people of faith, we can draw strength from recognising that God's purposes prevail beyond any political alliance or union. As God's Word expresses the intent that every nation shall be blessed, we have a place within the wider world that includes a responsibility towards those who are the most impoverished and needy.

As the implications of this historic decision continue to emerge, we call upon those who lead us to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly in the ways of God's Kingdom.

PRAYER

God of every nation and people,
At this historic moment we pray for all who are affected by the decision that we have made.
Whatever differences this has revealed within our own society,
may they not eclipse what we have in common.
Where the narratives of political debate have caused harm and division
help us to reclaim the true values of our shared humanity.
Where exaggeration and distortion have generated suspicion and fear
may truth and honesty restore hope and goodness.
We pray for all the nations of Europe,
that you will help us to find ways of living and working together
to pursue the mercy and justice that you require.
We recommit ourselves — together — to the values of your eternal Kingdom
and pray that along with all people
we might help your world become more as you intended.
AMEN

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