The last few weeks have seen some internal changes for the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT).
JPIT’s longstanding Team Leader, Rachel Lampard, has been seconded to lead a two-year project for the Methodist Church, looking at how the denomination can speak out on social issues and challenge injustices. This is sad for us but great for the Methodists, and we’re pleased that we will still be able to talk to and work with Rachel in her new role.
During this time, JPIT will be led by our own Simeon Mitchell, the United Reformed Church’s Secretary for Church and Society. We are grateful to the URC as we continue with a safe pair of hands, who knows our work and our team so well. The Methodist Church is recruiting an interim Public Issues Lead to join the team. You can find the advert for this role here.
The Rev Beth Allison-Glenny will be leaving JPIT later this summer having been appointed as Chaplain, Head of Welfare and Theological Fellow at Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Beth has been the Baptist Union’s Public Issues Enabler for a number of years, and has done great work with JPIT in this role. We look forward to continuing to work with her for the rest of her time with us and are excited for her as she takes up this new role.
We are delighted that Rev Steve Tinning will continue to be a regular member of JPIT as part of his role with the Baptist Union’s Faith and Society Team, alongside his position as a local church minister. Steve brings expertise and passion about community organising and advocacy for refugees, a great addition to the team.
As well as staff changes, our four denominations have adopted a new ‘partnership agreement’, the document which sets out what JPIT is for and how it works.
The new partnership agreement underscores the commitment of the Baptist Union, Methodist Church and United Reformed Church to work closer together, including through joint advocacy and communications work to congregations and supporters. The three Churches will continue to form the core partnership for JPIT’s strategy and work delivery.
The new partnership agreement also recognises the particular context for the Church of Scotland: an increasing divergence in approach to public policy making between the Scottish and UK Governments, which is likely to grow wider following the recent elections.
This distinct Scottish political, media and ecclesial landscape means that a JPIT ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t always work for the Church of Scotland. However, the benefits of a formal relationship, of sharing information, ideas and approaches are still hugely valuable – especially on UK-wide issues, and for devolved issues as they affect URC and Methodist congregations in Scotland.
It has been agreed that the Church of Scotland will remain part of JPIT as an ‘Associate Partner’. This means it will continue to be involved the work of relationships and information sharing, but that the Church of Scotland will choose which JPIT projects to join in with, rather than assuming it will always be fully part of to everything JPIT produces. There is a little bit more detail about this in some FAQs below.
The new partnership agreement largely reflects the way JPIT has been working over the past 18 months, and helps to smooth many of the day-to-day issues that present themselves when trying to serve and work together across four separate and diverse organisations.
We hope that these internal changes won’t make too much of a difference to our common purpose for JPIT, that it will help our Churches to continue to work together for peace and justice through listening, learning, praying, speaking and acting on public policy issues, to:
- Share the message in words and action that political engagement is integral to Christian discipleship.
- Understand what churches need in order to speak and act prophetically and prayerfully on key issues of justice and peace.
- Equip, energise, affirm, support and resource our churches, at both local and denominational levels, in their engagement with politics and public issues.
- Enable our Churches to speak together with a distinctively Christian voice in promoting narratives of justice and campaigning on public issues.
- Build deeper coalitions and partnerships to further these outcomes locally, regionally, in the nations, and internationally.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why is the Church of Scotland not a full member of JPIT?
The Church of Scotland joined JPIT in 2015. Following a recent review of the way the JPIT denominational partners work together, we’ve created two new categories of partner: ‘Core Partner’ and ‘Associate Partner’. The status of Associate Partner largely reflects the way in which the Church of Scotland has worked as part of JPIT over the past few years. The Church of Scotland wants to continue to be involved, but due to the different nature of public issues in Scotland it doesn’t need to be as integrated into every aspect of JPIT’s work as the other three denominations, which will be the Core Partners of JPIT.
2. Why the change now?
JPIT works according to a formal agreement between the partners, which is reviewed every few years. Following the most recent review in autumn 2020 a new Partnership Agreement was developed which streamlines the way we work and allows for greater flexibility. This was the first major review since the Church of Scotland joined JPIT, and the changes reflect some of the issues that have developed as the relationship has evolved over time.
3. Why is the Church of Scotland no longer mentioned in your email signatures?
As an ‘Associate Partner’ in JPIT, the Church of Scotland isn’t always involved in every JPIT activity – instead the Church of Scotland opts-in to projects, statements and resources on a case-by-case or issue-by-issue basis. The updated communications we are using in public now better reflect how we work and relate to one another.
4. Is the Church of Scotland going in a different direction on justice and peace?
No. The Church of Scotland will continue to work on a range of justice, peace and public issues work. In 2020 the Church of Scotland started to use the Five Marks of Mission as a way to consider priorities and strategy. The change is about reaffirming that we are all committed to working together, while recognising that the delivery of work on public issues needs to be relevant to the context.
5. What are the benefits of this different status within JPIT?
The new status articulates more clearly how we have actually been working together in recent years. It will allow greater flexibility for the Church of Scotland to choose which work to join with, and more freedom for the Methodists, Baptists and URC to continue their close work together.
6. Are other denominations welcome to join JPIT?
JPIT is not a membership organisation or an ecumenical body that other groups join – these already exist and JPIT does not seek to replicate what is better done by others. JPIT is better described as a partnership between organisations that have committed to a shared approach to working on public issues together. If another denomination wanted to explore what working more closely and deliberately within JPIT might look like, they should get in touch with Simeon Mitchell, the Team Leader.
Got any questions? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.