Moderator meets Scottish political party leaders

A former Deputy First Minister is returning to Holyrood to discuss issues important to the Church of Scotland.

Lord Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly, is holding online discussions with the leader of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar, Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, today.

Lord Wallace
Lord Wallace

He is having an online meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, on Wednesday, during which he will express his appreciation for the willingness of the civil service to engage with the Church during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The purpose of the meetings is to demonstrate the Church's commitment and involvement in national life and social and political issues.

Relationships

It is also an opportunity to build relationships and remind politicians of the active concern and regular prayers offered by Church members.

Lord Wallace is no stranger to the Scottish Parliament and was the Liberal Democrat MSP for Orkney from 1999-2007, serving as Deputy First Minister from 1999-2005.

Topics that will be discussed include climate change, disinvestment, the COP26 summit and plans to reform social care.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the part the church has played in supporting communities and the opportunities and challenges presented by the easing of lockdown restrictions will also be on the agenda.

Lord Wallace said: "As a Christian, my faith has been a key motivation in my life, and I have sought to reflect that faith in my life and work, including my work and relationships in the Scottish Parliament.

"Today and on Wednesday I am back in that sphere to represent the whole Church of Scotland and to share with our political leaders the commitment and dedication of so many ministers, elders and members in our work to show God's love to the world through service, care, teaching, prayer and worship."

Civility and courtesy

Lord Wallace, an elder at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney, said the country appears to be emerging from the worst of the pandemic, God willing.

"There are many costs to count and the grief, anxiety and uncertainty of the last 15 months has been profound," he added.

"But we have also heard stories of generosity, kindness and good-will and this must give us hope for the future.

"The easing of restrictions on gathering, meeting and in worship is something we are all looking forward to.

"I will be asking questions of party leaders, sharing ideas and building relationships with those who have been elected to govern us.

"The civility and courtesy we extend to one another, even – or perhaps especially – those we don't agree with politically or on matters of religion, is especially important in a world where there are too many people who think ‘if you are not with us you are against us'."

Lord Wallace said the online meetings were also an opportunity for him to listen.

"I will listen to the priorities of Scotland's leaders and reflect on the wider role of the Church in how together we can serve the common good," he added.