For many years during the 1980s and 1990s, Churches in Scotland were part of a movement in favour of devolution and the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament.
When the Scotland Act 1998 declared, “There shall be a Scottish Parliament”, it marked the beginning of a new era in Scottish politics and the Churches wanted to continue their commitment to the common good in the public square.
The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) was set up in 1999 as a response to this momentous decision, and its vision was to build a fruitful relationship between the Churches in Scotland and the new Parliament, and help them to relate and respond effectively in the political process.
When the new Scottish Parliament met in 1999 until 2004 its meetings took place at the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland on the Mound in Edinburgh.
Prior to 2005 the SCPO only covered Holyrood issues, but since then it has also covered Westminster topics of concern to Scottish Churches.
The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officers have been:
Rev Dr Graham Blount (1999-2008)
Chloe Clemmons (2009-2019)
Irene MacKinnon (2019-2020)
David Bradwell (2020-present)
The work of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office is to underline:
- The Churches’ commitment to the common good
- The role of churches and congregations in communities.
- Prayer and pastoral support for Parliamentarians
- The Churches’ multiple roles, as a prophetic voice, as a candid friend, and as a promoter of respectful dialogue and informed debate on national political issues.
In partnership with other faith communities, the SCPO helped to establish “Time for Reflection” – the weekly Parliamentary slot in which representatives of Scotland’s religion and belief communities offer a reflective “Thought for the Day”. Graham Blount was invited to give the first “Time for Reflection” in October 1999, a video of this can be found below.
The SCPO also initiated the annual Parliamentary Carol Service.