Hellos, goodbyes, new faces and new relationships…we’re changing (a little bit)

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

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

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 that 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 enquiries@jointpublicissues.org.uk.


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