The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly begins tomorrow with the installation of the Moderator Rev Dr Angus Morrison, who was forced to withdraw last year after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now fully recovered, one of the Moderator’s first tasks will be to chair an historic vote on the ordination of ministers in same sex civil partnerships.
The debate is a culmination of several years of deliberation on this issue, which included a vote by all 45 Presbyteries of the Church, which endorsed the move by 31 votes in favour to 14 against. The General Assembly will now have the final say on this proposed change to Church law.
This issue will be followed up on Thursday should the Overture be voted through, with the Assembly being asked to include ministers in same-sex marriages in Church law.
This year’s Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly is Lord Hope of Craighead KT PC, a distinguished retired Scottish judge.
During the annual gathering of the Church of Scotland, which has met almost every year since its inception in 1560, 730 Commissioners drawn from congregations across Scotland and beyond will make historic decisions that will affect the direction of the national church. It runs from Saturday 16 to Friday 22 May.
Other topics being considered are tax reform, food banks, mental health, fracking, mediation teams in South Sudan and nuclear weapons.
500 years since the birth of reformation leader John Knox will be marked with a fringe event exploring new discoveries about this complex man from the author of a new book on his life.
On Sunday up to 5000 people are expected to attend the Heart and Soul Festival, a celebration in Princes Street Gardens of the work being done by the Church.
A major new recruitment drive for ministers, called ‘Tomorrow’s Calling’, will be launched at this event. A video promoting parish ministry released earlier this week has already received a very encouraging response, with the 20 000 views so far equating to someone watching it every 15 seconds since it went live. Reports to the General Assembly are summarised in a mobile app which has been developed for Apple iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.