Church leaders meet Scotland's First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon
Back row l-r: Alastair Moodie (Scottish Unitarian Association), Rev Dr David Pickering (Moderator of the Synod of Scotland, United Reformed Church), Rev Matthew Ross (Secretary of ACTS), John Wilson (Convenor of the SCPO Advisory Group), Phil Lucas (Scottish Quakers), Rev Alexander Ritchie (United Free Church of Scotland), Major Steven Turner (Salvation Army), Anthony Horan (Director, Catholic Parliamentary Office) Front row l-r: Rev Norman Graham (Baptist Union of Scotland), Chloe Clemmons (SCPO Parliamentary Officer), Rt Rev Russell Barr (Moderator of the Church of Scotland), Nicola Sturgeon MSP (First Minster of Scotland), Most Rev Archbishop Tartaglia (Roman Catholic Church), Most Revd Bishop David Chillingworth (Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church), Rev May-Kane Logan (Congregational Federation) Scottish Government

Church leaders have held talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss some of the big issues facing Scotland today.

Representatives of 11 denominations including Right Rev Russell Barr, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, attended the meeting with the SNP leader at the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

The discussion focused on social care needs for an aging population and the particular challenges faced by those with dementia and their carers.

Many Churches are working to become dementia friendly and the meeting explored what more Churches could do to help meet this need.


There was discussion about the importance of community cohesion, freedom of religion and conscience.

Church leaders highlighted Home Office immigration restrictions and their impact on international church relations and spoke about the Meet Your MSP Project which encourages Churches to get to know their elected representatives.

Chloe Clemmons, Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer, said: “Churches are an active and valuable part of communities across Scotland.

“I am delighted that Church leaders and representatives have this opportunity to share stories about some of the work we are doing locally with the First Minister in the coming year.”

Dr Barr said: “Given my background as a parish minister, I was particularly interested in the item on the social care needs of an aging population.

“I was pleased the First Minister asked me to follow up some of the ideas and proposals presented with Lesley Irving, head of the Scottish Government’s Equality Policy.

“On a personal note it was also good to meet up with Lesley as we grew up together in Kilmarnock.”

Significant role

Speaking after chairing the annual Action of Churches Together in Scotland meeting, Miss Sturgeon said: “It is welcome that Scotland is becoming a more diverse country, particularly with free movement of people from other parts of Europe to Scotland, and the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers.

“Each group of people bring their own cultural identities, faiths and background.

“Scotland is a place where we celebrate our differences, while recognising the many things that unite us and where people of all races, faiths and background feel safe and respected.

“It is important that everyone is open to each other’s values and it is essential that we safeguard our shared vision of a multicultural, open and tolerant Scotland.

“Our faith communities play a significant role here, and abroad, and we welcome their contribution and input into our nation’s civic life to enrich us all.”