MINISTERS, ELDERS, DEACONS and special guests are gathering for the second ‘blended’ General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which opens today.

They will make key decisions that will affect the future of the Kirk against the backdrop of unprecedented challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In accordance with social distancing restrictions, only a small number of people will be gathered in person at the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh – those running the proceedings, reporting, livestreaming and recording the event.

Commissioners from across Scotland and further afield will watch proceedings live online via the Church website and Facebook page. They will be able to take part in debates and vote on reports brought forward by the forums and committees of the Church.

The first order of business is to officially install Jim Wallace (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) as the next Moderator of the General Assembly. He will chair proceedings from the Assembly Hall for the next five days and thereafter will act as the Church’s ambassador for the following 12 months.

The 66-year-old life peer from Orkney is the second elder in modern times to take up the role, which will see him speaking out on issues important to the Church and its message. Speaking after he was named Moderator Designate, Jim Wallace said: “I am delighted to have been asked to take up the role and feel humbled and honoured that people have put their trust in me.

“I am both excited and daunted about the challenge of the task that lies ahead and to be honest I have had to pinch myself that this is actually happening.”

Wallace, a former Deputy First Minister of Scotland, is a member of St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney. He succeeds the Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair. Dr Fair, who is returning to his role as minister of St Andrew’s Parish Church in Arbroath, Angus, will supervise the passing of the ring and chain of office to Wallace, a former MP and MSP.

The ceremonial aspect to the opening of the General Assembly will be scaled down due to Covid-19 restrictions.

* The General Assembly livestream is available here.

* Reports are available here.

Source: Church of Scotland