University chaplain speaks at Holyrood

University Chaplain Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie spoke to the members' of the Scottish Parliament on 1 September during ‘time for reflection’.

Rev MacQuarrie was invited to Holyrood by former first minister Alex Salmond, after the pair met during the commonwealth games.

During time for reflection a speaker addresses members of the Scottish Parliament, sharing a perspective on issues of faith.

Rev MacQuarrie was the first speaker of this parliamentary session.

To hear Rev MacQuarrie’s speech visit Time for Reflection.

Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie speaking to the Scottish Parliament

Time for reflection: Rev Stuart MacQuarrie

"Presiding Officer, I would like to thank you, and the former First Minister Mr Salmond for inviting me to deliver this brief reflection. The invitation was extended last summer as a result of the then First Minister’s visit to the Commonwealth Games Village, and its Religion and Belief Centre at the heart of the Village. Here people from all faiths, and those of none, found a place where they could reflect on their successes, disappointments, their achievements, their challenges. I was privileged to be invited to run and manage the centre.

"We used the interfaith model we have at Glasgow University Chaplaincy where what matters is inclusivity, not mere respect or tolerance,  and active appreciation of the wonderfully diverse range of human beings who contribute to our community. For the first time the Commonwealth Games had a secular humanist chaplain, alongside Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu chaplains. Prior to the start of the Games we held a Service in the University Chapel with Interfaith Scotland bringing together the people of the city with those who were here for the games. Each faith or belief presented a reflection, reading, song, music. It so happened that our Muslim Chaplain, Shoket Aksi brought a recitation from the Qu’ran which he chanted in that wonderful way, evocative of Highland churches singing the Psalms in Gaelic. Shoket, was followed by Rabbi Rubin, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi. As they met at the top of the steps, they paused and shook hands. This was the time the conflict in Gaza had escalated, and in many ways that handshake represented a key moment in the Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games.

"This summer our nation sadly lost, Charles Kennedy, former Rector of the University and notable politician. One distinctive aspect Charles brought to public life was his humanity, his concern for others, expressed in an ethos of public service. In the University we intend, perhaps with your help, to commemorate Charles’s life with a fitting and lasting tribute.

"Shortly, you, as members of the Scottish Parliament begin your Parliamentary programme and also start campaigning for re-election of yourself and your party. You offer your political programme, and yourselves not only as candidates but as human beings. In doing so you have a chance to demonstrate a commitment to public service, able to see and value each person as a human being, and through this Parliament able to overcome that which divides, able to appreciate what each person can bring to our common life together. Able to offer a warm, welcoming handshake, not for what people are, but for who they are."

First published: 7 September 2015