Queen praises ‘admirable’ service of congregations during pandemic

During this year’s General Assembly, Her Majesty The Queen has written to the Church of Scotland expressing her support and encouragement for the service of congregations within their communities during this ‘difficult’ and ‘pivotal point in history’.

Rev Dr George Whyte reading the Queen's letter to the General Assembly 2020
The Queen’s letter was read aloud to the General Assembly by Rev Dr George Whyte, Chaplain-in-Ordinary and Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Her Majesty The Queen is not being represented by a Lord High Commissioner this year, but she has instead sent a letter to the General Assembly.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged every aspect of our common life and has caused much suffering and heartbreak,” Her Majesty said.

“We greatly admire the ways in which the Church of Scotland has responded to these difficult days. Care has been offered to the bereaved whose grieving has been constricted by restrictions on funerals while churches have kept open their doors to feed the poor and offer safe space to the children of key workers.

“Many congregations have taken their worship on-line and touched the lives of people who did not in normal times attend church services.

“The Kirk’s care workers have remained faithful in sustaining the services upon which so many older people and their families depend.

“We know that the dangers posed by the coronavirus are not yet over and we commend the Church as she seeks ways in which she can be true to her calling in the present while looking to the future.

“We wish those who lead the Church wisdom and foresight at this pivotal point in her history and may your faith and courage be strengthened during the days ahead and through the times to come.

“And so, praying that the blessing of Almighty God may attend your deliberations, We bid you heartily farewell.”

Read the full letter here.

The Queen’s letter was read aloud to the General Assembly by Rev Dr George Whyte, Chaplain-in-Ordinary and Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland.

Rev Dr George Whyte was formally installed as Chaplain-in-Ordinary within Her Majesty’s Household in October 2019.

The role of Chaplain-in-Ordinary dates back to the 15th century and is a largely a ceremonial honour with chaplains taking part in formal state occasions and conducting services at significant national events.

There are a total of 10 chaplains to the Queen in Scotland and Dr Whyte will hold this post for 10 years.

The chaplains, along with a physician, a surgeon, an apothecary, a sculptor, an astronomer, an historiographer and others form part of Her Majesty's Household in Scotland.

They are all personally known to the Queen and are people in whom she has placed her trust.