General Assembly 2020

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the Church of Scotland's annual General Assembly, which was due to take place at the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh from 16-22 May 2020, was cancelled.

Although the full General Assembly could not go forward, a special service was held to formally install Rev Dr Martin Fair as the new Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

You can watch a video of the full event on this page below. Photo highlights are available in our photo gallery. Transcripts of the major speeches from the event can be found on our speeches and additional documents page.

Service of installation

In addition, a special online version of Heart and Soul was streamed live on our website on Sunday 17 May. Video of the full event can be viewed on this page below. Heart and Soul 2020 includes highlights from the service to install the new Moderator, along with worship, conversation, music and all-age entertainment.

Heart and Soul

Commission of Assembly

A Commission of Assembly, formed from around one-tenth of the Commissioners who attended a General Assembly, was appointed by the General Assembly of 2019. The Commission can take decisions in place of the General Assembly in certain situations.

Certain decisions, deemed 'straightforward, time-critical and non-controversial' have been taken by the Commission, on behalf of the General Assembly. These decisions include:

  1. Elect the Rev Dr Martin Fair (Arbroath: St Andrew’s) as Moderator of the General Assembly 2020-2021
  2. Pass Acts uniting (1) the Presbyteries of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, and St Andrews to form the Presbytery of Fife, (2) the Presbyteries of Aberdeen and Shetland to form the Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland, and (3) the Presbyteries of Dumbarton and Greenock & Paisley to form the Presbytery of Clyde
  3. Agree that membership of the Social Care Council will with effect from 1 June 2020 be reduced to 12 in accordance with a revised nomination process
  4. Make certain appointments to Standing Committees as proposed by the Nomination Committee, and to Trusts as requested by these Trusts
  5. Agree that the Ecumenical Relations Committee shall act on behalf of the General Assembly in the dissolution of Local Ecumenical Partnerships
  6. Amend the process for appointing the Committee to Nominate the Moderator and ask the Nomination Committee to populate that Committee, so that it can select a Moderator for 2021-2022
  7. Amend the Income Protection and Ill-Health Act (Act VI 2019) to reflect Income Protection provision commencing at 78 weeks rather than 52

You can learn more about these decisions on our Commission of Assembly April/May 2020 page.

Assembly Trustees report

In May 2020 the Trustees produced an account of the work they have carried out in the year since their creation at the General Assembly 2019. The report records the trajectory being set by the Trustees prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as the new challanges and opportunities the Church now faces.This report can be viewd on our Assembly Trustees Update to the Church page.

News round up

Moderator of the General Assembly 2020

Right Rev Dr Martin Fair

A minister who set up a mental health support service following the suicide of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchinson is the newly appointed Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Rev Dr Martin Fair, the minister of St Andrews Parish Church in Arbroath, begins his year-long role of ambassador for the Church of Scotland in May 2020, succeeding the 2019-20 Moderator, Rt Rev Colin Sinclair.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 General Assembly, the new Moderator took up his post following a special service at the Assembly Hall on the Mound in Edinburgh.