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What Now?

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Last week the people of the UK 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. The United Kingdom has made its choice. 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.

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