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Home  >  Features  >  General Assembly 2017


Picture by Derek Fett
Picture by Derek Fett

General Assembly 2017

Wednesday May 17 2017

Welcome to Life and Work's coverage of the 2017 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which opens on Saturday May 20.

We will be providing daily updates from the Assembly Hall. Feel free to get involved in the debates by contacting us through Facebook, Twitter or email. A live webcast and video archive of the proceedings, along with full reports and key speeches, will be available through the General Assembly area of the Church of Scotland website.

Read our interview with the Moderator-Designate, the Rev Dr Derek Browning.

Here are our summaries of the reports to the Assembly

Business timetable

Fringe timetable

If you're a General Assembly newbie, you may want to check out our Beginner's Guide.

Here's what happened last year, and a dip into the archives to the Assembly of 80 years ago.

Day 6: Friday May 26

The retiring Principal Clerk to the General Assembly, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, told this year’s final session that he hoped issues around human sexuality would not hang over his successor the way they had over him.

He said that it had followed him ‘from the day and hour I set foot in this office… sometimes the elephant in the room, sometimes the bull in the china shop’, and that he hoped he had dealt with people on all sides of the debate fairly.

Adding that he had always tried to find a way forward in disputes ‘through the power of talking and listening and mediating differences’, he said: “I hope over this last few years we have crossed the line to find ways of living together in our differences.”

Thanking the staff and people he had worked with, he added: “I will be forever grateful for the honour to serve the church in this way.”

The Moderator, the Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning, told Dr Chalmers: “The Church feels you are ours, you belong to us, and you have made us feel we belong to you… the whole Church is in your debt.”

Dr Browning told the Assembly that he had valued the prayers of all the Commissioners and delegates: “Without prayer, none of us is anything. With prayer, we have a world to bless in the name of Jesus.”

He gave his final ‘word of life’ reflection on ‘love’: “Love is an act of defiance, the foundation of our church, the past, present and future of the church. It’s not Christianity’s sole property, but our faith is predicated on love.”

The Lord High Commissioner, Princess Anne, in her closing speech, said it had been ‘a pleasure to listen’ to the Assembly, although she claimed it was ‘intimidating… your standards are very high’. She added that her word of life was still ‘love’ and that she hoped commissioners would take that away with them; and that the relationship between the Lord High Commissioner and the Assembly was ‘a very important link’: “Together we represent everything that’s good about this country and the way the Church works.”

Report: Christian Aid Chief Executive praises 'transformational' partnership with Church of Scotland.

Day 5: Thursday May 25

Report: Church to apologise for historic discrimination against LGBT people, takes step towards ministers officiating at same-sex marriages; Mission and Discipleship; Armed Forces Covenant approved.

Day 4: Wednesday May 24

Report: "We are the hands and ears of Christ today": ministries, ecumenical relations, safeguarding and a distinguished guest

Day 3: Tuesday May 23

Report: Church extends 'open hands, not clenched fists'

Silence for Manchester victims

Day 2: Monday May 23

Report: Assembly debates economic sanctions against Israel; gender injustice 'a scandal to the Gospel'; CrossReach struggles to pay Living Wage, 

Tribute to the Very Rev Dr James Weatherhead.

See our pictures from Heart and Soul on our Facebook page

Day 1: Saturday May 20

Report: Church Called to Pray; Homelessness 'Unacceptable in 21st Century Scotland'; 'Bitter, bitter disappointment' about missing overseas delegates

Pictures by Derek Fett Photography