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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 27 February 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Healthy Weight Strategy, European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: Update, Point of Order, Business Motion, Decision Time, Scotch Whisky (Contribution to Tourism)


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. Our first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland).

The Right Reverend Dr Derek Browning (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland)

It is my pleasure and privilege to be here, and I bring to you the greetings of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

I spend a fair part of my life speaking, and this year I have also had good opportunities to listen. I suspect that moderators and members of the Scottish Parliament have at least that in common. I am reminded of what my grandmother said to me as a five-year-old—“Remember, you’ve got one mouth and two ears. Don’t forget that balance.”

I have been thinking about the voices of young people whom I have been listening to over the past months, including young people at our general assembly last May, and then at their own youth assembly later in the summer—filled with faith, filled with questions, filled with commitment and wanting to build bridges and make a difference for good.

I think of a young man—let us call him Andrew—who has poor mental health and who had just started visiting a Church of Scotland day centre in Ayrshire, where he was able to be honest about what was working and what was not working in his life, and at last had found a safe place where he would be listened to and would not be judged.

I think of young people I met in schools in Anstruther, Glasgow and Dundee, wondering about the many faith families in Scotland, wondering what differences for good they were making, wondering what answers faith might have to the complex questions of life in the 21st century and wanting to think about that more deeply than some people would give them credit for.

I think about a group of young people from Accrington who were visiting the European Parliament in Brussels, challenging politicians who they felt had prevented them from being involved in deciding their future during the European referendum debate.

I think about the young people in Ramallah who were asked about how hopeful they felt for the future of Israel-Palestine. Out of a class of 30, only four raised their hands.

My theme during my year as moderator has been hospitality. It has allowed me to speak and to listen, to include and be included. In this year of the young person, how we include young people in the present and the future will be a defining moment for our nation and our church. How can we bring together different generations to experience and hope, and to find reality and vision, so that those things may interact with each other?

Jesus listened as well as spoke, to young and old. Churches and all faith communities have much to offer in partnership with wider society, as we listen to them and work with young people. There is work to do. Let us all get on with it.