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Honorary Doctorate for Principal Clerk

Monday November 28

The Very Rev Dr John Chalmers with family members following the ceremony at the University of Aberdeen.

The Principal Clerk, and former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Divinity by the University of Aberdeen.

At the ceremony on Friday, Dr Chalmers wore robes gifted by another former Moderator, the Very Rev Dr James Simpson; and the Doctorate was conferred by the Very Rev Professor Iain Torrance, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, who has also held the role.

The honour was in recognition of Dr Chalmers’ work in encouraging the church to be an instrument of healing and reconciliation. During his Moderatorial year, which coincided with the referendum on Scottish independence, he led the calls for ‘respectful dialogue’ between the parties in the debate.

Dr Chalmers said: “I feel particularly honoured to be recognised in this way, but I regard this as an award that has only been made possible because of the hard work and support of colleagues, family and friends who have encouraged me and allowed me, over the years, to enjoy a wide ranging involvement in church and public life.

“I was pleased to be surrounded by family and friends with whom I was able to share my pleasure and delight at what was a very special occasion.”

Professor Torrance said: “John Chalmers' honorary degree was very richly deserved. He was an outstanding Moderator in a demanding year. But even more than that, he has shown a lifelong commitment to helping others and supporting ministry, including our Centre for Ministry Studies [which opened in 2014].

“He has been a consistent advocate for this university and we were proud to recognise his many accomplishments.”

Dr Chalmers, who has served as Principal Clerk since 2010, has announced he is to retire after the next General Assembly in May 2017.

Dr Sally Bonnar, Convener of the Council of Assembly, said: "John has been a mainstay of the General Assembly for many years now and a valued member of staff at the church offices for many years before that. He has made an enormous contribution to the work of the church and notably stepped in at short notice to take on the role of Moderator in 2014 for which the Church remains very grateful.

“The search will now begin to recruit a new Principal Clerk and in due course there will be a more formal recognition of John's work and dedication. In the meantime we would like to congratulate him on the award of his Honorary Doctorate and thank him for all the work he has done, and still will do in the coming months up to the Assembly in May.

“We wish him well for the coming months and in the future." 


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