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Language: English / GĂ idhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 28 March 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Independence Referendum, Decision Time, Included in the Main Campaign


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. Our first item of business is time for reflection, for which our leader is the Rev Andrew Frearson, rector of St James the Great church, Dollar.

The Rev Andrew Frearson (St James the Great Church, Dollar)

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

Late in 2015, I officiated at the funeral of Kelsey Clarke, aged 18, who was a transgender student at St Andrews university. She did volunteer work for St James Episcopal church in Dollar. Extremely intelligent, she represented Scotland in debating and was an advocate for justice in political affairs. Her mother, Jude, a parishioner and friend, advocated for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and especially for improving mental health care, and she came here often to work for that end. Jude, too, took her life last September. Those losses are keenly felt, yet their legacies and contributions live on, though they could not cling on themselves. Their constant plea to any who would listen was for more kindness and compassion in this world, which they exhibited in spades.

In a previous parish, I knew Mike, a professional violinist, who for several years had been in a dark depression and had been unable to play or teach violin. While visiting him one time, I asked him out of the blue to improvise nine passages of music in a forthcoming three-hour Good Friday service. He had played only from written music before, and improvisation terrified him. To my amazement and his, he accepted.

It was tense on the day. Would Mike be able to play, and in a way that he had never done before? What followed blew me and more than 200 other people away. Many knew his situation. He conveyed the pain and torture and suffering of the world, and his world, as he connected to the Good Friday story. There was not a dry eye as he closed his own wet eyes and literally played to the gods. No one wanted that to end.

My experience over and over has been that the support of those who face huge obstacles in staying well, and of others in embracing their true identities, can bring unique gifts of creativity and love to our communities. Fortunately, Mike and Jude were able to find dignity, respect, celebration of difference and an open inclusiveness in the faith tradition that nurtured them. I know that those same values are aspired to in this place.

In a political world of much shallowness and untruth, be aware that there are many in this land who thank you for the times when this place upholds the values that I mentioned. Thank you.