For one whole week during the month of May, George Stott, Liz Dyer and I were commissioners at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. It was a week of early mornings, late nights and long afternoons! We sat there in the Assembly Halls with more than 800 other people, attending the longest and biggest meeting I have ever been to! (And us ministers attend plenty meetings!)
Now I know this might sound a little daunting, or even boring – and I won’t lie to you – there were moments (especially after lunch on a warm afternoon) that I struggled to keep my eyes open, never mind concentrate! But it was really amazing to be part of something so BIG. To meet so many other people who do what we do in other places all over the country (and even abroad), and to hear about the difference the church is making in so many people’s lives. Did you know that the Church of Scotland is the largest body of volunteers in the country? And we are a part of that!
ut it wasn’t all listening to reports and debate. On Sunday morning we attended an amazing service in St Giles Cathedral, where the church burst out of its seams and the singing lifted the roof! Then there was Heart and Soul in Princes Street Gardens, where it was lovely to see thousands op people celebrating our Church in an informal setting. On Tuesday we celebrated the fact that 50 years ago the 1st female minister was ordained in the Church of Scotland, and to me that was a very heart-warming experience. Suzanne Dunleavy came along to join lots of other women walking up the Mound, and we listened to inspirational stories told by special ladies. On Thursday evening we attended a beating retreat and reception at Holyroodhouse Palace, where we were treated almost like Royalty. And then on Friday Alison Quilter was introduced to the General Assembly along with all the other new ministers.
The moderator, the Right Rev Susan Brown, a small woman with a big presence, led the meeting splendidly and with her good sense of humour she had us all in stitches every now and again. No doubt she will lead the church to new heights this year.
I thank God for the opportunity to not only be the minister at the very special West Kirk of Calder and Polbeth Harwood Church, but also for the fact that we form part of a Church that isn’t afraid to look the future in the eye and bring much needed change when and where we can…
The theme of the Assembly was “Peace be with you” – and it is my prayer that the Peace of God will be with you all – always.