By royal appointment: theologian takes up new roles
Published on 3 July 2019
An eminent theologian and former parish minister who has dedicated his career to higher education in Scotland has been appointed by the Queen as the next Dean of the Chapel Royal.
Rev Professor David Fergusson, who last year retired from the role of Principal of the University of Edinburgh’s New College, will also become the Dean of the Order of the Thistle.
Professor Fergusson, who has been a Royal Chaplain since 2015, said: “I am very pleased to be succeeding Professor Iain Torrance as Dean of the Chapel Royal and Dean of the Order of the Thistle, both of which are distinguished Scottish institutions.
“It is an honour to serve the Queen and her family in this capacity, and I look forward to the time ahead.”
The new roles will mean that he will convene the 10 Royal Chaplains who are based in Scotland, and also take part in the annual ceremony of the Order of the Thistle, which is held at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Royal Chaplains date back to the 15th century, and the position is mainly a ceremonial one, with the chaplains taking part in formal state occasions and conducting services at significant national events.
Professor Fergusson, who is from Glasgow, studied in his home city as well as at the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, before being ordained as a Church of Scotland minister.
In 1990, he was appointed Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen, and became Professor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh a decade later.
Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said “I am truly delighted, but not surprised, that Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Professor David Fergusson as Dean of the Chapel Royal.
“He is a superlative academic theologian of whom the University is justly proud, and he also cares deeply about the Church, regularly preaches, mentors students, and recently led the decisive Special Commission.
“To the role of Dean he will bring a sharp mind and also outstanding human qualities of reliability, faithfulness, approachability and efficiency.
“As Dean of the Thistle, he is a successor of his own teacher John McIntyre, another distinguished Principal of New College and I hope this gives him much satisfaction.”