Moderator addresses the Scottish Parliament

The Moderator of the General Assembly has become the first visitor to address the Scottish Parliament in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two years ago.

Lord Wallace gave Time for Reflection in the debating chamber this afternoon – a feature which heralds the start of the parliamentary business week.

Lord Wallace
As a former MSP, Lord Wallace is no stranger to the debating chamber.

He was introduced by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone who said he was "no stranger to this chamber".

His appearance was a homecoming of sorts because he served as the MSP for Orkney from 1999-2007 and is a former Deputy First Minister of Scotland.

Cruel strife

Addressing MSPs, Lord Wallace said: "It is both a privilege and pleasure to be back in this chamber, albeit in a somewhat different role, and to lead this Time for Reflection – which I understand is the first ‘in-person' reflection in over two years and to bring you the warm greetings of the General Assembly.

"It has been two difficult, challenging and, for some, traumatic and heart-breaking years.

"And we meet against a backdrop of cruel strife and war on our own continent of Europe.

"It could become so easy to become despairing and yet, during this time, we have also seen, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘an eruption of humanity'. "Neighbours helping each other, profound examples of compassion and caring and in the response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, a willingness to welcome the stranger.

"Such outpourings of love and concern are surely an antidote to pessimism - beacons of hope; light in the darkness.

"At this Eastertide, we, who are Christians, celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a cause for joy and hope.

"It is an affirmation of life over death and a triumph of love over hate.

"A time to celebrate life, rebirth and resurrection presence in, with and through all things and peoples.

"So now is a time for us all to reflect on a new imagining for our country in a post-Covid world.

"A time to see the world, not only as it is, but with a vision as to how it might be and what our contribution will be in making it so.

"And that is a call to service.

Love, justice and equality

"So, may I share and commend to you part of a prayer which was given to me in my early days as a member of parliament and is based on St Francis of Assisi's ‘Letter to the Rulers of the Peoples.'

‘Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received - fading symbols of honour, trappings of power, but only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

‘Enter into God's plan of liberating all peoples from everything that oppresses them and obstructs their development as human beings.

‘Do not grow tired of working for peace among all people.

‘Uphold the rights and dignity of the human person.

‘Foster the creation of a society where human life is cherished and where all peoples of the planet can enjoy its gifts, which God created for all in a Spirit of love and justice and equality.

‘Amen'.

Jim Wallace
Lord Wallace is an elder at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney.

Lord Wallace is spending the day at Holyrood and is meeting some party leaders to discuss issues of concern to the Church and assure them that they are upheld in prayer as they make decisions that affect the lives of the people of Scotland.

This morning he met Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and later this afternoon he is meeting Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives and Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens.

Lord Wallace was supposed to meet with Anas Sarwar, leader of Scottish Labour, today but the MSP had to cancel and hopes to reschedule another meeting soon.

A planned meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tomorrow will also be rearranged for another time at the request of her office.

Lord Wallace is hosting a parliamentary reception for CrossReach, the operating name of the social care council of the Church of Scotland, later this afternoon.

It will give him the opportunity to publicly thank staff for their tireless work over the last two years and enable MSPs to better understand and appreciate the wide-ranging cradle to the grave services CrossReach provides across Scotland.