Humanist society to take part in historic ceremony
For the first time non-religious people will be represented by Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) in the Kirking ceremony which opens the Scottish Parliament.
The ceremony, which takes place today (Wednesday), dates back to 1707 and is traditionally a Christian service but in recent years it has had representation from other religions.
It traditionally takes place on the evening before the first sitting of a new parliamentary term.
The society will become the first non-religious group to be represented at the event, which will be held in Edinburgh's St Giles Cathedral and attended by Prince Charles.
HSS chief executive Gordon MacRae will recite Tom Leonard’s poem Being a Human Being at the ceremony.
MacRae commented: “We’re delighted to be asked to participate in this year’s ceremony. As Scottish society changes it is only fair and proper that representatives from the large group in society that seek to lead ethical and fulfilling lives without religion are included in the country’s important ceremonies.
We’re delighted to be asked to participate in this year’s ceremony - Gordon MacRae
“During the course of the next session of parliament, MSPs will need to address many complex issues such as transgender rights, devolution of abortion and the role of segregated schooling on education attainment.
“We wish all MSPs the best as they prepare to undertake this important role.”
Departing Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick, who will make a reading during the event, said it would be a "modern" service including representatives of "many faiths".
She said: "It is an honour to take part in a tradition as historic as the Kirking of the Scottish Parliament, a ceremony which was resumed when Parliament reconvened in 1999.”