Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh
Services: Sundays 10.30 am, Wednesdays 10 am
Numbers are limited – advance booking essential
Letter from the Manse
During the month of May the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will have taken place. The Moderator for this Assembly is Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC. Perhaps he is better known as Jim Wallace, a former MSP and former Deputy First Minister. Jim Wallace is an elder at St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney and is only the second church elder in modern times to hold the role of Moderator.
The Queen’s representative, The Lord High Commissioner, at the Assembly this year is Prince William. With such a star-studded team, this will be an Assembly to remember.
Our Presbytery Elder, Doreen Jones, and I will both be Commissioners at this Assembly. Due to the COVID-19 regulations, it has been decided that the Assembly will meet on-line and not in the Assembly Hall at the Mound, as they did last year.
The General Assembly is the highest form of Church Government within the Church of Scotland. The next level of government is the Presbyteries. Around Scotland and beyond we currently have 49 Presbyteries from Edinburgh to Orkney. We also have a Presbytery of Europe and a Presbytery of Jerusalem overseeing the Church of Scotland congregations within their areas. The General Assembly is keen to reduce the number of Presbyteries from 49 to around 12. This will mean a more local form of church government with less reliance on the church administration based at 121 George Street.
The local Congregations are overseen by their Kirk Sessions. Each Kirk Session has a group of elders from the local congregation who oversee matters spiritual and temporal and the meetings are chaired, or moderated, by the local Minister. In recent years our elders have also become the local Charity Trustees for the congregation to comply with charity law.
All of this can seem, at times, miles away from the worshipper in the pew! As our church emerges from the recent restrictions of a world-wide pandemic we need a church that is less bureaucratic and less ‘top heavy’. We really need a church that is a community of people of faith who possess a love from God that is both sacrificial and unconditional. During our services these last few weeks we have had several readings from both John’s Gospel and the book of 1 John. It has struck me how the apostle John, who wrote both of these books in his old age, keeps going back to the central theme of love. ‘Love one another,’ he says, ‘just as Christ has loved you!’
The Reverend Dr Jim Jack