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Friday July 19 2019

Looking Back: The Queen at the General Assembly

In 1969, the Queen attended the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for the first time.


From the Speech delivered by Her Majesty The Queen at the Opening of the 1969 General Assembly.

“This occasion brings back many happy memories of the special meeting of the General Assembly held in October 1960 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation.

“It was my experience of that time and the warmth of the Assembly’s welcome which made me resolve to be in Edinburgh at a suitable opportunity for a period of the normal annual General Assembly and to be present at the opening and at some of your regular deliberations.

“Over the years I have had ample opportunity to witness the work of the Church of Scotland among my people in different parts of this country as well as among people in many parts of the world.

“I am particularly glad to have here with us representatives of the Church in the developing nations of Asia and Africa. Today I have had a chance to express my appreciation and admiration direct to the supreme court of the whole of the Church of Scotland.

“I join you all personally in offering congratulations to the Principal Clerk of Assembly on a successful year in the highest office of the Church, and instead of sending a letter for him to read out on this occasion I can tell you myself that I remember and renew my promise to preserve and uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland.

“Christians everywhere are sustained and inspired by the ideal of the brotherhood of man and the commandment to love one another.

“In this imperfect world the struggle to achieve this ideal is long and hard, but we all look to the leadership of the Church and we are most conscious of its unceasing efforts.

“There may be an inclination to look back at the apparent lack of progress, but it is far better to look forward with hope, with faith and with expectation.

“The world may often seem gloomy and discouraging but we should remember that we are only able to witness a very small part of its continuing development: we should remember that with courage and perseverance we can do God’s will in the certain knowledge that he expects us to fulfil His grand design.

“In this there is work for the most humble. Injustice, suffering and ignorance cry out for remedy all around us.

“Church people have every opportunity to set an example of service and self-sacrifice so as to make this world a better place for all.

“The qualities of compassion and tolerance, love and forgiveness, are the most precious gifts of God and I know that these qualities are to be found in your Assembly and in the presbyteries and congregations represented here.

“Add to these courage and perseverance and the Church can continue to exert a decisive influence on the life of the nation.”

This was one of two occasions (the other being in 2002) when the Queen attended the General Assembly in person, instead of appointing a Lord High Commissioner. In addition, she attended the special sitting marking the anniversary of the Reformation, mentioned in this speech, and addressed the opening of the Assembly in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year.

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