Former deputy first minister Lord Jim Wallace returns to Scottish Parliament in new role as Kirk Moderator

Former Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace returned to the Scottish Parliament todaynote-0 – albeit virtually – in his new role as Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly.

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The former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, now Lord Wallace of Tankerness, was holding online discussions with opposition party leaders on a range of key issues.

And he is due to have a virtual meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday.

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Lord Wallace became Moderator at last month's Church of Scotland General AssemblyLord Wallace became Moderator at last month's Church of Scotland General Assembly
Lord Wallace became Moderator at last month's Church of Scotland General Assembly

Lord Wallace, who was Deputy First Minister from 1999 until 2005 and had three spells as Acting First Minister, became Kirk Moderator last month – only the second elder in modern times to hold the post.

His meetings on Monday were with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

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Topics expected to be discussed included climate change, disinvestment, the COP26 summit and plans to reform social care which impact CrossReach, the Church’s social care provider.

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 – who has moved to the non-affiliated benches in the House of Lords for his year as Moderator – 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.”

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

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

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“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.

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