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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Point of Order, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Global Capital Investment Plan, Business Motion, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, Motion Without Notice, Decision Time, People with Learning Disabilities (Support during Pandemic)


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon, colleagues. We begin business today, as we do on a Tuesday, with time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev David T Young, who is parish minister and team leader at Helensburgh parish church.

The Rev David T Young (Parish Minister and Team Leader, Helensburgh Parish Church)

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, good afternoon and thank you for this opportunity to address you.

In 2017, I had the privilege of participating in a pulpit exchange with a senior pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA). For six weeks, I worked with Hickory First Presbyterian church in North Carolina. I lived in my counterpart’s home, drove his car, worked from his office and preached from his pulpit. It was a daunting experience, travelling across the Atlantic to live and work among people I had never met in a place I had never visited. Then again, life begins at the end of our comfort zone.

Being from Ardrossan, I was naturally quite concerned that my accent would bamboozle them. In fact, a member of the committee that was responsible for all staffing in the large church complex prayed ahead of my first sermon that

“the congregation would understand him”.

Of course, I had to share that with the congregation. They laughed, so the prayer must have worked.

What struck me most during this cultural and professional exchange was the warmth of the welcome. Connections with people were made so easily, the hospitality was fantastic, and the affirmation that I received from everyone with whom I was fortunate to come into contact was a complete blessing.

Before returning to Scotland, I was interviewed by the local newspaper. The headline for the article stated simply “They’re Like Family”, because I spoke of the warmth with which I was welcomed and the way in which people took me under their wing. I did not have to cook a meal during the entire six weeks.

We have all thought a lot about family and connections in this past year. We have had to sacrifice birthdays and anniversaries and all the things that we perhaps took for granted before Covid took over our lives. Our connections have largely been contained in our wi-fi networks, as my remote presence in Parliament today demonstrates. At the same time, we have made new connections with neighbours and folks in our communities whom we would otherwise simply have waved at as we jumped into our cars and headed to work.

As we cautiously look to brighter days when we can again be with all our loved ones, my hope and my prayer is that Parliament remembers the lesson that this period has taught or reminded us—that above all else, relationships matter, affirmation matters and connections matter.

Every blessing to you all, and thanks again.

Thank you very much.