Youth leader gives MSPs a message of Interfaith hope

Some of the greatest challenges facing the world are best tackled by people of different faiths working together, MSPs have been told.

Robin Downie, who was Moderator of the National Youth Assembly of the Church of Scotland (NYA) in 2017-18, said there are more similarities between Christians and Muslims than differences.

He made the remarks during Time for Reflection, which heralds the start of weekly business at the Scottish Parliament.

Robin Downie
Robin Downie gave Time for Reflection in the Scottish Parliament.

It is the first time that a Moderator or a former Moderator of the National Youth Assembly has used the platform to address MSPs.

As the Year of Young People in Scotland draws to a close, Mr Downie reflected on two trips to Rwanda and Israel and Palestine during his time as Moderator where he got to know people of different faiths his own age.

Addressing the chamber at Holyrood, the Applecross, Lochcarron, Torridon Church member said: “The love I was shown from members of the Muslim faith was inspiring.

“These trips highlighted the importance of interfaith dialogue overseas and here in Scotland.

“By meeting with people of different faiths and beliefs we can build friendships and work together despite our differences.

“We can challenge some of the major problems in the world such as climate change and prevent wars.

“Through dialogue we can secure a brighter future for young people across the world and also here in Scotland today.”


Mr Downie’s appearance was organised by West of Scotland MSP Ross Greer, a member of Bearsden Cross Church in East Dunbartsonshire and the NYA.

The politician said: “I thought it was really important, in the last week of parliament in the Year of Young People, that MSPs hear from someone who has experienced something vital for all generations.

“The power of interfaith work, the power of reconciliation and peacebuilding.

“It is not just relevant in places like Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, where there is ongoing or legacies of conflict, but something that is relevant in Scotland where faith communities come together and do amazing things.

“Robin is a wonderful example of the power of when that happens successfully.”

Robin Down Ross
Robin Downie and Ross Greer, MSP for West of Scotland.

Reflecting on giving his address to MSPs while his proud parents and brother sat in the Presiding Officer's gallery, Mr Downie said: “I really enjoyed it - it was an absolute privilege and a real honour.

“It is an experience that I will cherish and another highlight of what has been an incredible time with the Church of Scotland.”

Mr Downie is a student nurse at Stirling University,

In September, the Church of Scotland held a reception in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament to celebrate the Year of Young People.

A total of 10 groups from across the country, which are involved in groundbreaking youth work supported by the Kirk, one of the largest volunteering organisations in the country, showcased their work.

The event was attended by MSPs, young people and staff from across Church-supported projects, members of the National Youth Assembly, Youth Parliament and Young Scot as well as experts involved in education and welfare.


Representatives from the Kirk’s Go For It Fund, its 64 Priority Area congregations and social care arm, CrossReach, will also be addressing the audience.

Rt Rev Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “The Church is present in every community of Scotland, providing a wide range of activities for people of all ages, old and young.

"The young people I meet as a parish minister in Dornoch are outstanding and they give me hope for the future of our community and nation.”

Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney, said the Kirk delivers some of the most “creative and innovative” youth work in the country, which enables young people to make an “invaluable contribution” to society.