Our People

Sabine Chalmers is the Co-ordinator for Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees.  Originally from Austria, Sabine lives in Edinburgh, and worships at a local church.  To contact Sabine email schalmers@churchofscotland.org.uk

Members of our co-ordinating group:

Ian Alexander is the Global Justice Lead in the Faith Action Programme Team at the Church of Scotland.


Ephraim Borowski is the Director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities.

As its Convener of the grandly-titled Standing Committee of Scottish Jewry at the time of Devolution, Ephraim led its transformation into SCoJeC, a democratic representative body with the authority to speak on behalf of the entire Jewish Community of Scotland. Before his early retirement from Glasgow University, Ephraim was head of the Philosophy Department, a member of Court, and President of AUT. He is the joint author of the Collins Dictionary of Mathematics, and has been President of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, a Governor of Hutchesons’ Educational Trust, Vice-President of Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, Chairman of Giffnock Synagogue, Chair of the Regional Assembly of the Board of Deputies, and a Lay Member of GTC(S). He is currently Treasurer of BEMIS and Chair of the National Independent Strategic Advisors Group which advises Police Scotland on equality and diversity matters. Ephraim was awarded an MBE for services on behalf of the Jewish Community, and was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philosophical Society – only the third since Einstein!

Nick Bowry represents the Scottish Episcopal Church on our group. He is Rector of St James the Less, Penicuik and St Mungo, West Linton. In Nick’s previous charges in Aberdeen he was involved in Interfaith work and the Syrian New Scots settlement programme run by the city council. There were several Syrian families settled in his area. Nick is a member of the Iona Community, and is committed to engage with and take action on issues of social justice, peace and reconciliation.


Ian Buchanan is the current Convener of the Church and Society Committee in the United Free Church of Scotland. He is a retired Principal Teacher of Biology, having taught for 37 years. He is also a church elder and clerk to the Congregational Board of the United Free Church in Milngavie, just outside Glasgow.

Grace Buckley is a member of the National Justice and Peace Commission for Scotland, which is a commission of the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.  The Justice and Peace Commission is a member of the Conference of European Justice & Peace Commissions, and works with them and the Pontifical Council Justitia et Pax.

Lynne Barty represents the Society of Friends in Scotland (Quakers) on SFAR. Her background is in education and she has taught English for many years in different countries and contexts, including, most recently, volunteering for RefuAid. In the early 1980s, in response to the misjudged dispersal programme for Vietnamese ‘Boat People’, she and several colleagues already working with refugees co-founded the Scottish Refugee Council. Lynne is active in the Edinburgh Interfaith Association and is Project Lead for Failte Edinburgh, a Community Sponsorship group preparing to bring a refugee family to live in Edinburgh in 2022.

David Cavanagh represents The Salvation Army. He is Major and Assistant Secretary for Scotland

John Collings is the Convener of the Church and Society Committee of the United Reformed Church National Synod of Scotland.

Imam Sheikh Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi

Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi is an international academic and public lecturer, with training in Islamic Sciences and UK degrees in History, Comparative Philosophy, and Law. He is the Director-General and Chief Imam of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society. Sayed is involved in academic and civic outreach to those of faith and no-faith backgrounds; engaging with congregations across the world, religious leaders, governmental and diplomatic bodies, and civil society. Sayed has represented the Muslim community at European Commission High-Level Religious Leaders meetings. An advisor on policy relating to religion, integration models and counter-terrorism, Sayed was one of the cross-denominational Imams leading a 2014 UK media campaign against ISIS, publicised on 350+ media outlets worldwide. He is a trustee of the Maimonides Interfaith Foundation, a representative on the National Council for Imams and Rabbis, a core member of the Global Covenant of Religions, a committee member in promoting the UN International Day of Peace, representative, advisor and interfaith-chair for Shia Muslim organisations in Europe, a faculty member for the Cambridge Coexist Leadership Programme at the University of Cambridge, and a founding member of a historic and newly established Shia–Sunni Muslim Alliance in Scotland.

Maureen Sier has a PhD in Religious and Cultural Studies from Aberdeen University and has worked in the field of interfaith relations for over 17 years.  She is currently the Director of Interfaith Scotland. Interfaith Scotland is a national organisation which aims to: provide a forum for religions to dialogue with one another; support wider interfaith dialogue within society; promote education about interfaith dialogue; encourage civic engagement by religions in Scotland and support religion and belief equality in Scotland. 

Maureen’s commitment to interfaith engagement has led her to undertake interfaith activities in Europe, America and Asia Pacific.  She currently serves as a Trustee for the UK Interfaith Network and has served on the Co-ordinating Committee of the European Women of Faith Network (Religions for Peace) and in 2007 received a UK/US Fulbright International Interfaith Scholarship.  The Fulbright Scholarship allowed Maureen to spend time in America contributing to, and learning from, interfaith work in the US. 

Prior to working for Interfaith Scotland Maureen taught Sociology and History at the National University of Samoa in the South Pacific.

Linsay Taylor represents the Muslim Council of Scotland.  She is currently the project manager of a low-carbon environmental project. Previously she was a human rights adviser and immigration and asylum case worker.

Laurent Vernet is a French citizen and has been working in Scotland for over 25 years. He is a post-graduate in economics and a Bachelor in politics and European history. He has studied theology at The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education (Birmingham). For many years he worked in the Scottish food industry as a marketing development and strategist.  He has an experience of challenges met by migrants through international voluntary work and regular visits to migrants’ camps in various parts of the world.  In June 2019 Laurent was made a Presbyter Minister within the Methodist Church in Scotland. He has the pastoral charge of the Methodist Churches in East Kilbride, the East of Glasgow and the chaplaincy of a retirement home.  Previously he has served part-time as a minister in Tranent-Cockenzie and Granton.