The Moderator

Right Rev Dr Russell Barr is the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He succeeds Very Rev Angus Morrison.

Rev Dr Russell Barr
Rev Dr Russell Barr

Dr Barr, minister at Cramond Kirk in Edinburgh, said he was "excited, honoured and overwhelmed" to have been elected to the position by his peers.

"I will seek to use the role to raise moral and ethical issues and publicise the important part the Church plays in public life," he added.

"I look forward to the opportunities and challenges of the year ahead."

Dr Barr was born in Kilmarnock in 1953, the son of a GP and a hospital theatre nurse.

He attended Kilmarnock Academy, Langside College in Glasgow and graduated with a degree in history and philosophy from the University of Edinburgh. He has honours and masters degrees in theology from New College in Edinburgh and has a doctorate from Princeton Theology Seminary in the USA.

Dr Barr's church career began in 1977 when he spent 12 months as a probationer at Jedburgh Old linked with Ancrum linked with Edgerston.

After ministries at Garthamlock and Craigend East Church in Glasgow and St Luke's Parish Church in Greenock, he moved to Cramond Kirk in 1993.

Dr Barr, who won the Divinity Honours Class Prize at the University of Edinburgh in 1978 and the Sir Will Y Darling Memorial Prize in 1979, is married to Margaret, a retired secondary school biology teacher.

The couple have a son, Robert, and daughter, Lindsey and three grandchildren Eva, Caterina and Alessandro.
During his time in the Church of Scotland Dr Barr has made a significant mark, serving as:

  • Moderator of Edinburgh Presbytery 2011-2012
  • Convener of Edinburgh Presbytery's Superintendence Committee and a member of the Presbytery's Business Committee
  • Convener of the Africa and Caribbean Committee of the World Mission Council 2011-2015
  • Convener of a Ministries Council working party on the diaconate 2001-2005
  • Convener of Media and Arts Committee of Church and Nation Council (now Church and Society Council) 1994-1998
  • Chaplain to the Moderator of the General Assembly the Very Rev Alan McDonald 2006-2007
  • Chaplain to the Lord High Commissioner 2012Chaplain to the Lord High Commissioner 2013

Dr Barr is the founder of Fresh Start, an Edinburgh churches charity which helps people who have been homeless to make a home for themselves.

He has served as a supervisor for candidates training for the ministry since 1980 and has assisted 11 probationers and several dozen other candidates for the full-time ministry of word and sacrament, diaconate and ordained local ministry.

Dr Barr is a published author and had contributed to many books including The Parish; Past, Present and Future – an essay in the Realm of Reform 1999, The Story of Jean – Pastoral Theology and Terminal Illness ; Theology in Scotland Volume 11 no 2, 1995 and Ministry to the Parish : Theology in Scotland 2003.

"With its vision of a church and school in every parish, the Scottish Reformation was always local in its outlook," he said.

"It remains so to this day and one of the great privileges of being Moderator is to see that the health and vitality of the church is to be found not in the person of the Moderator, or the General Assembly, or even the Presbytery, but in the life and worship and activity of the local congregation.

"As I visit congregations the length and breadth of the country I am hoping to focus on two aspects of congregational life.

"We need more ministers and Tomorrow's Calling is one of the most important initiatives encouraging people to consider one of the ministries of the Church.

"As Tomorrow's Calling suggests, ministry is a rich and rewarding experience and drawing upon my years of experience as a parish minister I hope to encourage women and men to consider it."

Dr Barr said he founded Fresh Start in response to the scandal of homelessness.

"Fresh Start is supported by congregations of all denominations throughout Edinburgh and by providing starter packs of basic household goods, it helps people make a home for themselves," he added.

"It is one example of the ways local congregations can engage with and make a real difference to the health and well-being of their local community.

"As Moderator I am keen to find out what other congregations are doing in their communities and offer whatever support and encouragement is needed."