The Church of Scotland has named the Rev John Chalmers as Moderator Designate to take office at the 2014 General Assembly of Scotland's largest Presbyterian Christian denomination.
Mr Chalmers will take the place of the Rev Dr Angus Morrison who earlier had to stand down due to ill health.
The Committee to Nominate the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland "met in extraordinary circumstances" on 2 April 2014 to consider the situation, the Kirk reported.
The Rev John Chalmers, who is the longstanding Principal Clerk to the General Assembly, is well placed to take on the role of Moderator at short notice.
Mr Chalmers said; “It is an unexpected privilege and a real honour to be entrusted with this role at this time. If the Assembly supports my nomination, I will seek above all else to hold the people of the Church of Scotland together in peace and unity.”
Addressing the urgent challenges that face the Church, the new Moderator Designate went on to say: “My focus will be on those things that unite us. Within the Church we have to learn to live with our differences. We have an urgent need to recruit women and men to train to be ministers and it’s time to let society know that there is something very meaningful about living the life of faith.”
He continued: “Women and men of Christian faith have motives, values and a sense of meaning that should be among the life choices which are seriously discussed in the public square.”
Referring to the challenges beyond the Church he said “The Church has to be an instrument of healing and reconciliation in post-referendum Scotland.” He promised to “champion the right of the most disadvantaged both at home and abroad.”
“I will want to tell the story of a Church which cares about the values by which Scotland lives, which cares about the conditions in which people live and which puts its money where its faith is, in the work it does amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised.”
Mr Chalmers, aged 61, whose older sister June had Down’s Syndrome, has spent most of his life supporting the work of Enable; for twenty years he was a member of the Board of Donaldson’s, the National School for the Deaf and in his Moderatorial year he hopes to visit many special needs facilities because he believes that some of the greatest works of service are done by people who do not get enough affirmation or public recognition.
In 2011 his youngest son John-James was injured in Afghanistan while serving with the Royal Marines. Mr Chalmers says at that time they experienced the Church as a healing and supportive community. In a society in which so many people are friendless and lonely, Mr Chalmers hopes that in his role as Moderator he will be able to encourage people to find faith, friendship and the spirit of Christ in the community of the local Church.
Mr Chalmers, who was born in Bothwell, South Lanarkshire and attended Marr College in Troon, now lives with his wife Liz in Dunfermline, Fife. The couple, who have three children and three grandchildren, have been immersed in Church work for most of their lives.
Mr Chalmers began by studying chemical engineering at Strathclyde University before transferring to Glasgow University to embark on a degree in divinity.
During the early eighties he was a minister in Renton Trinity Parish in West Dunbartonshire.from 1986-1995 he was the minister at Palmerston Place Church in the West End of Edinburgh.
These contrasting parishes gave him a breadth of understanding of the challenges facing the Church, says the Kirk.