Free Church of Scotland expresses sorrow over historical slavery links

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The Free Church of Scotland has expressed "sorrow" over the "historical sins" of members of the denomination in relation to slavery.

In a statement, it expressed particular "regret" over the receipt of funds linked to slavery as a result of a visit by a Free Church delegation to the US in 1844. 

"The Free Church recognises and freely admits the historical sins of members of the denomination in relation to slavery," it said.

"In particular we express regret over the interaction between members of a Free Church delegation that visited the USA in 1844 and some of their US associates. We grieve that the Free Church decided to receive funds as a result of the delegation.

"Even though we, as the Free Church today, are unlikely to be the beneficiaries of these funds due to the various transfers of property to other denominations, yet as their successors we acknowledge with sorrow the actions of our forebears who held the name of Free Church office holders."

The Church said that it was "firmly opposed to all forms of racism and slavery" and that many of today's Free Church congregations and individual members are "financially, prayerfully, and actively engaged with organisations working to release and protect people from modern-day slavery and trafficking". 

"The Bible teaches that everyone is made in the image of God and worthy of inherent dignity and respect. We are all equal in the eyes of God and the Bible urges us to love one another without partiality," the Church said.