Moderator installed at General Assembly 2018

Rt Rev Susan Brown has been installed as Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s 2018 General Assembly during Saturday’s opening ceremony.

Susan with Lord High Commissioner and First minister Nicola Sturgeon
Rt Rev Susan Brown with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (left) and the Lord High Commissioner His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry

His Grace Richard Walter John Montagu Douglas Scott, The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, KBE, DL, FSA, FRSE, represented HM The Queen as the Lord High Commissioner to the Assembly.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also attended, along with Lord Provosts from across the country and distinguished visitors from around the world.

Very Rev Dr Derek Browning welcomed the new Moderator, saying, “full-blooded, soul-warming, kind-hearted parish ministry,” has been the centre of her work.

“On this year when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament it is particularly special that you as a committed parish minister will be our Moderator,” Dr Browning said.

“It is also a delight that having served in two Highland parishes that you will also represent that important part of our country for the first time in a number of years.”

First minister listens to the Duke of Buccleuch speech
First minister Nicola Sturgeon listens as the Lord High Commissioner, His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry delivers his speech

The Lord High Commissioner also welcomed the new Moderator, saying:

“On this 50th anniversary of the ordination of women it is especially appropriate and we pay tribute to the wisdom, the dogged determination which achieved such progress so that today women can be properly and fully at the heart of the Church…

“It is your hope, Moderator, that each of us at this General Assembly can also walk together and build our own bridges of friendship in the week ahead. I look forward more than I can say to doing just that and to meeting and talking with as many of you as time will allow.”

The Dornoch minister has chosen ‘Walking With…’ as her theme for the year. Her personal chaplains for the year will be Rev Jim Stewart, minister for Letham St Mark’s in Perth, and Rev Mary J Stobo, an ordained local minister and community healthcare chaplain in Sutherland.

The entry of the Lord High Commissioner
The Lord High Commissioner arrives at the General Assembly with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The 2018 General Assembly will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decision to allow women to be ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament. Commissioners will discuss a wide range of topics including the Church’s strategic plan, the Westminster Confession of Faith and a proposal to draft legislation allowing ministers to perform same sex marriages, should they wish to do so.

Commissioners will also see the building’s famed Black and White corridor transformed by an art installation intended to give a feeling of peace while entering and leaving the debating chamber.

This year too the Assembly Arrangements Committee included more frequent breaks in the schedule in order to encourage discussion. The committee has introduced several other changes aimed at supporting more commissioners to participate in the discussions.