Countdown is underway to the 2017 General Assembly

With the General Assembly just four weeks away, the Church of Scotland has published the Blue Book of reports to be discussed at the event.

The General Assembly hall
The interior of the General Assembly Hall. Visit the Church of Scotland Facebook page to view a 360-degree photograph.

The annual gathering of the Church will bring more than 700 commissioners to the General Assembly Hall in Edinburgh to hear from councils and committees across the church.

Members of the public can also attend and watch the proceedings from the public gallery each day. Attendance is on a first come basis with no need to book in advance.

Put yourself in the Assembly Hall by viewing the 360 degree image on our Facebook page.

This year’s theme will be Word of Life, highlighting the beauty and power of language in sharing our faith.

This year the Lord High Commissioner, who represents HM the Queen at the event, will be HRH The Princess Royal, who will be serving for the second time having first attended in this role in 1996.

For those interested in watching from home, Sanctus media will again be webstreaming pictures provided by the General Assembly technical team. You will also, for the first time, be catch up by watching videos of each day's full proceedings via the Church website. We anticipate the proceedings will be ready to watch the following day.

A daily podcast by General Assembly stalwart Douglas Aitken will also be available on the website, along with informational videos for commissioners.

Life and Work will offer daily updates on their website.

Commissioners and anyone who wants to read the reports in advance can download the Blue Book directly or get the General Assembly phone app from the GA publications website. A series of new information videos to help commissioners prepare for the Assembly and get the best out of the week are now available to view.

The General Assembly building is also used for events and productions throughout the year. It is open to visitors during the annual September ‘Open Doors’ festival and available for hire year round except during the week of the General Assembly.

Highlights of the week will include the Heart and Soul Festival, held on Sunday 21 May in Princes Street Gardens. More than 60 charities, churches and service organisations will be represented at the festival , which attracts around 5,000 visitors each year. There is also a lively programme of General Assembly Fringe events which run throughout the week.

Here’s a brief outline of what to expect during the week

Saturday 20 May

The first day of the General Assembly is highly ceremonial with the Roll of Commissioners laid on the table, the consecration of the new Moderator, the address from the retiring Moderator and the reading of the HM the Queen’s letter to name just a few. The First Minister may attend.

Sunday 21 May

The day begins with the 10 am General Assembly service at St Giles followed by a Gaelic service in Greyfriars Kirk at 12:30 am and the Heart and Soul Festival in Princes Street Gardens from 1-6pm.

Monday 22 May

After Holy Communion at 9:30 am, the General Assembly will receive reports from the Business Committee, the World Mission Council, and a special report on Israel/Palestine prepared jointly by the World Mission and the Church and Society councils. CrossReach, the Church’s social care council will also report on Monday.

Tuesday 23 May

Today commissioners will consider reports from the Church and Society Council, the Church of Scotland Guild and the Iona Community.

Wednesday 24 May

The General Assembly will hear reports from the Ecumenical Relations Committee, the Safeguarding Committee and Ministries Council.

Thursday 25 May

The General Assembly will receive reports from the Committee on Chaplains to Her Majesty’s forces, as well as from the Mission and Discipleship Council, the National Youth Assembly and the Theological Forum.

Friday 26 May

On this final day of the General Assembly the morning will wrap up business from the General Trustees, the Housing and Loan fund and The Church of Scotland Pension trustees. In the afternoon the Moderator and the High Commissioner will speak to the Commissioners, and the General Assembly will be dissolved.