In response to the outbreak of violence in the Holy Land

If you pray, pray from your guts, not your lips – offer a prayer that moves in you and through you – one that calls you to reach out to a fearful neighbour, to speak up for peace and calm and the unity of humanity.

Peace Dove
“Peace in our world can never come through violence.”

A message from Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, on the Israel Gaza conflict

Published on 10 October 2023

Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has issued a statement in response to the outbreak of violence in the Holy Land. You can read it here (below) or on the Church of Scotland website.


I reach out to you all, as we continue to grapple with the shattering violence unfolding in Israel and Gaza, and to ask for your prayers and your action.

Across Scotland, our Jewish friends, neighbours and colleagues grieve the loss of loved ones following the devastating terrorist attacks we witnessed unfolding over the weekend, worry for friends and family who have been kidnapped and fear the possibility of increased antisemitism in their own neighbourhoods as tensions rise across the world.

In Scotland, our friends with family in Gaza mourn the loss of loved ones, worry for those unable to find safety or a place of refuge and fear an even more uncertain future.

Together we agonise, yet again, over peace gone to pieces. We desperately try to fathom how we can be any comfort to the members of our global family trapped in the middle of such a barrage of violence and fear. We are appalled by the horrifying levels of brutality and the inhumanity of mass murder scenes of which were broadcast across our screens in horrifying, gut-wrenching detail.

We call for calm and active consideration for the innocent civilians who are suffering in Israel and Gaza. Peace in our world can never come through violence. Peace in our spirits can never come through revenge.

So, what can we do in the face of war?

If you pray, pray from your guts, not your lips – offer a prayer that moves in you and through you – one that calls you to reach out to a fearful neighbour, to speak up for peace and calm and the unity of humanity.

Pray for all those many people injured and those mourning the loss of loved ones and those living in abject fear who await news of family members missing.

Wherever you are, check in on your Jewish neighbours, friends and colleagues.

Wherever you are, check in on your neighbours, friends and colleagues who have family in Gaza.

Wherever you are, be mindful of your words. Tarring with a broad brush adds more fuel to the fire, so be kind to one another wherever you find each other.

The Zulu phrase, Ubuntu, is the theme for my year as Moderator and its challenging truth resonates powerfully today. ‘I am because you are.’ We are one global family. When we look into the face of another human being, God looks out from the windows of their souls. Today, love God by loving each other.

A prayer for peace

‘In days to come … they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.’

God, it is said that you are the peace that passes all understanding. We sit now, staggered at how quickly the fragile half-peace we had pieced together has unravelled.

The lessons we have so desperately needed to learn have been laid aside as the instruments of war begin their horrible, haunting reprise. Call us back to our senses.

For the angry, abused and frightened among us, who strike out in a distorted quest for victory, help us find ways to convince that there is no victory to be found in violence.

Peace-making is a daunting path to tread, especially when fear follows so closely behind, so breathe your loving spirit into our hearts and help us walk your way.

We pray ceaselessly for our family in Israel and Palestine, for we are all family and when one part suffers, we are all depleted. Peace in pieces is a collective, shared shame.

God, you are the peace that passes all understanding, so help us understand how to find you.

Royal service offered opportunity to reflect on a modern Scotland

This week’s service of thanksgiving and dedication at St Giles, following the coronation of King Charles III, had a distinctly Scottish flavour and showcased both the modern and the traditional within Scotland.

“Sisters and brothers, look around you – at this beautiful tapestry of humanity – Scotland

Regardless of your feelings towards the Royal Family, the homily, given by the moderator of the Church of Scotland – the Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton – was both moving and thought provoking. The full text is on the Church of Scotland Website but here are some highlights…

“Your Majesties’, look around you. Sisters and brothers, look around you – at this beautiful tapestry of humanity – Scotland. What we learn when we listen to one another, listen to understand, not just respond; is extraordinary.

“We gather to commit to and celebrate the common good of the place and people of Scotland.

“How depleted life would be without the creative imagination that explodes through our diverse customs and cultures, faiths and beliefs – the literature, the poetry, the music, the sacred searching, scientific insight and innovation, the beauty of life unleashed.

“We are a saga, not a short story, a symphony, not a solo.

“How narrow our sight, and how monochrome our understanding when we do not embrace the richness of different perspectives.

“We can’t see round ourselves by ourselves, but need other human beings if we are to be what we were created to be – not just humans being, but humans becoming.

“The text we heard from the gospel of Matthew is from ‘The Beatitudes’ or ‘sayings of extreme blessing’. The subtleties and nuance in the original language is hidden and makes it very difficult for us to understand.

“But another way to see this today is Jesus setting out his stall, announcing his manifesto – ‘Blessed are’ can mean ‘this is what my vision looks like’ – this is what I will stand for, work for, offer my life for – this is what ‘my kingdom coming’ looks like in real time.

“Another translation is, ‘you’re on the right track if‘,

“The ‘poor in spirit’ – they are not weak or poor, the meek aren’t doormats – no, they are the brave ones among us with a deep awareness that no one alone has all the answers. The ones who call us together to search for answers that elude us when we search from our one limited perspective. We need them more than ever today.

“And ‘we’re on the right track if’ our people are brave enough, bold enough, empowered and hopeful enough to listen and learn from, and cherish, each other.

The following day Their Majesties visited The Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels and saw the Tapestry that is Scotland, laid out before them.

“To choose collaboration and trust over a fear-filled circling of our wagons.

“Sisters and brothers, look around you. We are one global neighbourhood – intricately inter-related and completely co-dependent, woven together, like a tartan.

“My kingdom-coming in real time comforts those who mourn – the death of someone, of course, but also the life snatched from them by war, oppression, climate chaos, systemic poverty that pulls them down like a whirlpool.

“There is no them and us, only us – and when one human being suffers, we all suffer.

“My kingdom coming means we comfort each other, welcome each other, cherish every human life – mercy and peace are not ideals to be domesticated or downgraded, they are not ‘good to have’s’ but part of the fabric of our being.

“Are we on the right track?

“This ancient text reminds us today that a bold vision like this is a tough and very often thankless task – calling for love when there is so much fear is not for the faint-hearted.

“But rejoice, it says, rejoice because it is worth it. Love is worth it.

“The psalm we heard read is a song, it’s a poem.

“Concentrated imagery that speaks to the soul, whispers a truth beyond the words.

“The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.

“This beautiful, formidable, yet fragile planet we call home, was here long before we were – and without words, it worships its God.

“Tides surge, plants push through the earth and bathe in the sun, luxuriating in it.

“Birds sing full-throated and animals have languages all their own. Are we too self-absorbed to hear them? Or have we sadly become too preoccupied to listen?

“Blessed are we … on the right track are we when we understand that the heavens and the earth are not commodities or possessions, we are part of it and called to cherish and protect it.

“Blessed are we, and on the right track, when we understand that our children do not inherit this earth from us – we have borrowed it from them.

“And it is our duty to return it still singing and surging and bathing, not baking to a crisp.

“Your Majesties, you have made it part of your mission to speak alongside creation; advocating for it. As we present the honours of Scotland to you, we commit ourselves to walking that journey with you. We are all a small part of something so much bigger – this beautiful, sacred creation and everyone and everything in it.

“Thanks be to God.


Reproduced with kind permission from Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly