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'Our Greatest Strength'

'Our Greatest Strength'

Friday September 16

On the occasion of her Silver Jubilee in 1977, the late Queen Elizabeth addressed the opening of the General Assembly and her speech featured in the July 1977 issue of Life and Work.

WHEN the Queen spoke at the opening of the General Assembly she reaffirmed her oath to uphold the rights of the Church of Scotland and she told the Assembly of the close interest with which she always followed their proceedings. She called on all Christians to set an example of service, self-sacrifice, reconciliation and unity.

She also spoke of ‘difficult times’ during her 25 years’ reign and said:

“Much has been achieved but continued courage and perseverance are called for! And let us always remember that along with the difficulties there are great advantages. These islands remain rich in material resources as new discoveries of coal, gas and oil have shown us. But these are finite and we must use them well and wisely.

“But the greatest strength of any nation is its human and spiritual resources. Christians everywhere are sustained and inspired by the ideal of the brotherhood of man and the commandment to love one another. They can set an example of service and self-sacrifice, of reconciliation and unity, so as to make the world a better place for all.

“For the people of this country which has achieved so much, there remains a powerful underlying sense of community and of direct links with generations past and still to come. In this fast changing temporal world, it is the task of the Church, by fresh inspiration and new understanding, to awaken and renew this sense of common stewardship.

“Over the centuries perhaps the greatest moments in the history of our country have been in times of great adversity when the nation has stood alone, when we have been faced by the threat of more powerful material forces, but have been sustained by the strength of our own moral and spiritual conviction. Under God’s will, we can still achieve that truer greatness in our own generation. For it is part of the Christian message that ‘time and chance happeneth to all men.’

“Opportunity lies with each and every generation in the circumstances of its day provided it acts with faith, courage and perseverance.”

‘The Queen took leave of the Assembly on the third day of its sittings, and spoke of the way the width and range of debates had impressed her. After the Assembly joined in signing the National Anthem, an apparently spontaneous voice led the hall in a supplementary rendering of ‘Will ye no’ come back again?’