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Home  >  News  >  Lord Wallace Named Moderator-Designate for 2021

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Lord Wallace Named Moderator-Designate for 2021

Tuesday October 27 2020

A former Deputy First Minister of Scotland has been announced as Moderator-Designate of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2021.

The Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC (Jim Wallace) will become only the second church elder in modern times to hold the role of Moderator, presuming his appointment is confirmed in May next year.

The 66-year-old life peer from Orkney, an elder of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, said: “I am delighted to have been asked to take up the role and feel humbled and honoured that people have put their trust in me.

“I am both excited and daunted about the challenge of the task that lies ahead and to be honest I have had to pinch myself that this is actually happening.”

Lord Wallace grew up in a Christian family - a so-called 'cradle Presbyterian' - and his late father John was an elder at Annan Old Parish Church in Dumfries and Galloway for 64 years.

In his youth, the Moderator Designate was a member of the Boys Brigade, involved with Scripture Union and was confirmed in the faith while a law student at Cambridge University in 1973.

Ordained as an elder in what was St Bernard's Church in Stockbridge, Edinburgh in 1981, Lord Wallace has been a member of the Session of St Magnus Cathedral since 1990.

He said that his faith ‘drove’ him into politics: “I went into politics to make a positive difference to society and my motivation is grounded in my Christian faith.”

He was an MP for the Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats from 1983 to 2001, standing down from Westminster after he entered the Scottish Parliament in 1999. As leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, he was deputy first minister of Scotland in the first term of the new devolved government. He was as an MSP until 2007, after which he was appointed to the House of Lords, where he led the Liberal Democrat group from 2013-16.

He is married to Rosie, with whom he has two grown-up daughters, Helen and Clare,

He said: “I hope that my years of experience in public life as an MP for Orkney and Shetland then as MSP for Orkney will stand me in good stead as I carry out the duties of the Moderator of the General Assembly.

“As an elder, I hope my year will be a source of encouragement to other elders and members of congregations who already play a very full part in the life of their church and communities.

“We are living in a time when we will probably be called on even more than ever, given the decreasing number of ministers in charges and the challenges that lie ahead as we slowly emerge from this pandemic.

“I hope to help encourage elders and congregation members that they have an important role to perform which will be valued.”

He added that he hoped hoped to use the role to try and promote the theme of justice - social, economic and climate – as the country rebuilds from the pandemic.

At present a working peer, Lord Wallace will move to the non-affiliated benches in the House of Lords during his time as Moderator, meaning he will not belong to any parliamentary group and will cease to take the Liberal Democrat whip. He will not take part in the Scottish Parliament election campaign next year.


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