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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2019

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Supreme Court Judgment (Response), Common Frameworks, Decision Time, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Week 2019


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. The first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Major Lynn Farmer, of the Salvation Army in Greenock.

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, I thank you for the opportunity to address you today, on together making a difference.

The Salvation Army heritage centre records that, in 1891, William Booth, the Salvation Army’s founder, opened a matchbox factory. At the time, matchbox making was big business, and the workers—mainly women and children—were severely exploited as well as exposed to phossy jaw, which was a painful and disfiguring disease. William Booth’s factory introduced fair wages and healthy working conditions. His approach attracted attention from Parliament and news reporters and led to laws that transformed the workplace in general.

In the words of an anonymous writer:

“it isn’t the problems that determine our destiny, it’s how we respond.”

William Booth’s response was:

“heart to God and hand to man”,

and “soup, soap and salvation.” His God-led vision has taken the Salvation Army to 131 countries around the world. He knew that, alone, we can do so little but together we can do so much. He was a pragmatist to the end, living out Isaiah, chapter 1, verse 17: “do good; seek justice”, and his final speech continues to challenge to this day.

“While Women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out ... I’ll fight; while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight, I’ll fight to the very end!”

The Salvation Army in Greenock has an integrated mission approach between the church, the Greenock floating support service for people who are at risk of losing their housing tenancy and the Scottish drug and alcohol strategy, which is a recovery programme for people with addictions.

Support comes through not a match factory but a garage project, which started when an unused garage became a meeting place for all, whether people come for peer mentoring, to prevent social isolation or to pick up a bargain at the garage sale and recycle. The project continues to develop and we have just received planning permission to extend, to create a shop and a safe, multipurpose area for our employment plus initiative.

Whether we are talking about a match factory, a garage or the Scottish Parliament, I close with the prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.