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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament [Draft]

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Right Rev Colin Sinclair, who is Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Right Rev Colin Sinclair (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland)

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, what do you think of when you think “church”? The attitudes of many people, especially from outside, are shaped by television, and not all are flattering. Some dismiss followers of faith as religious anoraks: they might prefer singing hymns to trainspotting, but they are equally irrelevant to issues of everyday life.

However, over the past 50 years, the Church of Scotland has sought to be at the cutting edge, through its society, religion and technology project. Back in 1969—the year of the first moon landing—it was clear that change was here to stay and that technological change would reshape our world and the boundaries of human experience. Far from retreating, the church chose to address issues as they arose, while anticipating the future. The SRT project brought together people from the worlds of theology, ethics and technology in order to help us to appreciate the complexity of the issues, the key questions and the possible unintended consequences.

The SRT was at the first United Nations conference on the environment in 1972, long before climate change dominated the headlines. It has wrestled with the impact of North Sea oil discoveries, nuclear power and the quest for greener and more sustainable ways of life. From genetic engineering and Dolly the sheep to global warming, and from test-tube babies to end-of-life care, taking in human cloning on the way, it has sought to present a Christian voice. It has lived through the arrival of mobile phones, the internet, and social media.

If the Christian faith means anything, then there must be no no-go areas. The church must engage with the world at every level. Listening and learning with others, from every walk of life, and facilitating meeting of people with expertise from different disciplines, are central. The questions are endless in a world of stem cells, synthetic biology, economics, environmental issues, drone delivery services and digital tracking technologies.

Behind the project is the call of God through Micah:

“He has shown you what is good. What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

We are called to use the talents and gifts that God has given us. Followers of faith care about the impact that our changing world makes, especially on those who are vulnerable and voiceless and on future generations. The SRT project in its 50th year helps us to work that out.

Before we move on to topical questions, I invite members to join me in welcoming to the gallery the Hon John Ajaka, the President of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. [Applause.]