St Paul's Cathedral and the Church of Scotland's Economic Commission Find Common Ground.

It's now Wednesday evening and I'm heading up the road by rail hoping to be in Edinburgh just after 10.30pm. I'm sitting with the schedule outlining the visits we have made over the past 10 days. In my previous posts we managed to cover part of the trip up to last Wednesday. Thursday 29th November saw us arrive at the Chapter House of St Paul's Cathedral where we were met by the Dean Dr David Ison and the Chancellor Canon Mark Oakley. Both men made us most welcome and arranged for us to have a tour of the Cathedral, we then had a very interesting discussion centred around the areas where St Paul's might make common cause with the Church of Scotland in promoting Credit Unions. I found myself sitting next to Mark, where our conversations strayed into theology and the need for all of us who profess Christ to engage with Christian discipleship more seriously. Faith and theology need to be spoken of within the context of the people we hope to engage with the Gospel. Following lunch, it was time to get ready to meet The Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub. Those of us who had met Daniel in Edinburgh a couple of months ago were looking forward to renewing our conversations with him. Ambassador Taub is an engaging personality who has made an impression on all of us. Rev Sally Foster Fulton, Convener of Church and Society joined us for our discussion. This meeting was no different from our last meeting. Apart from the high security routine which we all had to undergo we were welcomed and listened to as we spoke once again about our concerns for Christian Palestinians. Sally always speaks well. She has a great gift of speaking the truth as she sees it from her perspective while respecting those who take a different view. ONe area I touched on was the very subtle danger of criticism of an Israeli political decision being mis understood as anti-Semitic. Taub understands the issues and of course spoke of the unresolved tensions that have brought about the present crisis. He was thankful that hostilities on both sides had ceased at least for the present and he was hoping that a more permanent solution could be agreed. We talked about the role that the church could play in creating a better understanding at a local level. One area we hope to explore more is how the Hotel at Tiberius might be used to promote a greater understanding between Christians, Muslims and Jews. this is something that seems to be asked of me by various people it happened again today while I was at the Ccuncil for Christians and Jews. The hour in the Ambassadors company flew past. r just hoped that we also had been good Ambassadors for the views that have been expressed at our General Assembly relating to finding a fair and just solution to the Israeli/Palestinian question. One thing I do know is developing good personal relationships where ever we go is good for all concerned and helps us all understand each other. Then it was back to the Caledonian Club to get changed for the dinner I was hosting at the House of Lords courtesy of The Lord High Commissioner Lord James Douglas Hamilton. This turned out to be a highly successful evening helping us to begin to shape the next stage of our plan to promote a wider use of Credit Unions throughout the whole of the UK. On Thursday evening my meeting with the Prime Minister was cancelled due to the Levison Report. Another date in the near future will be arranged. We arrived home feeling tired but also having a sense of making headway. I believe we can make a contribution to the lives of those who are being forced to get involved with pay day loan companies . It seems to me after the meeting last Thursday that there was a distinct willingness to find a vehicle through which politicians and church leaders and civic society could begin to shape economic policy to help those in low income brackets to find credit but also to be able to save.

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