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Home  >  News  >  Dornoch Minister Named Moderator-Designate


Dornoch Minister Named Moderator-Designate

Monday October 9 2017

The minister of Dornoch Cathedral, the Rev Susan Brown, has been announced as the Moderator-Designate of the 2018 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Mrs Brown said she was ‘deeply moved and honoured’ to be chosen for the role.

She said: “This is probably the highlight of any minister’s lifetime’s work. It’s an enormous responsibility, an enormous pleasure and it’s incredibly humbling to think that others should think me worthy of chairing such a prestigious gathering.

“Being Moderator will not be about what I can do, but about what God wants to do. I am conscious that it is both a great privilege and a great responsibility – one I can only undertake at God’s prompting.”

Mrs Brown grew up in Penicuik, Midlothian, where her father was a miner. While the family was ‘not especially religious’, Susan and her sisters attended Sunday School at Penicuik North Kirk. She was 15 when she sensed a call to the ministry, and went on to study Divinity at New College in Edinburgh.

Her first charge was at Killearnan on the Black Isle, where she spent 13 years before moving to Dornoch Cathedral – following former Moderator the Very Rev Dr James Simpson.

She was in the headlines in 2000 when she performed the marriage of pop star Madonna to Guy Ritchie, and baptised their son Rocco. She also gained international media attention last year when she wrote a spiritual reflection for each of the 18 holes of the Royal Dornoch golf course.

“Dornoch is a beautiful place to be and Dornoch people have a warmth and hospitality,” she says.

“When you’re in the far north you are much more likely to be at the heart of everything and that’s very important to me. In the Highlands you will find the church at the heart of the community and the community in the heart of the church.”

After 32 years as a parish minister, she says she still feels pride in the role: “I am one of those strange creatures who went straight into ministry from school, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every experience I have had It’s a great privilege and also a great responsibility. You see people at their most vulnerable and their most ecstatic.”

Mrs Brown was the first woman to serve in both Ross and Sutherland Presbyteries and the first woman to be moderator of both.

Her year as Moderator of the General Assembly will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the decision to ordain women to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. She said: “I count myself incredibly fortunate that there were people who forged the way, in order that people like me could go forward on this path. I am not strident about it: I am a minister who happens to be a woman.”

Mrs Brown has been married for 36 years to Derek, lead chaplain for NHS Highland, whom she met at Sunday School aged 10. They have two children: Simon, a novelist, and Hannah, a social anthropology graduate.

In addition to her parish ministry, she has served the church nationally as vice-convener of the Ecumenical Relations committee and is currently vice convener of the World Mission Council. She is also a Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen.

She says she will bring her love of the outdoors to the role of Moderator, making her theme walking alongside people. “When you walk alongside people, you listen and you exchange stories,” she says. “It gives us a chance to talk more deeply than when we are face to face.”

“Deliberately making the time to walk in our communities, praying as we go, talking with those we meet, listening to the stories of friends and strangers alike, seems to me to be following in Jesus’ footsteps.”

Mrs Brown said her experience comforting families who have lost loved ones to suicide confirmed her choice.

“I want to encourage people to get out more because while it can be one of the hardest things to do when you are depressed it is also very healing,” she added.

The year will also coincide with centenary commemorations for the end of the First World War, and with the Scottish Year of Young People.

“In looking back on this milestone anniversary, we need to let the past remind us of the huge toll war exacts and we need to learn from the experience of those young men and women who paid a price beyond asking,” she said. 

“The fact that 2018 has also been designated the Year of Young People provides a poignant reminder of the connection of the past, the present and the future.”


Elise Theurer - Saturday, October 14th, 2017

“Congratulations from me at Broughton St Mary's, Edinburgh!
You're the 'right' person for this post and at this time.
Just to let you know Graham McGeoch is leaving us on 31 Oct and going back to Brazil.
Best wishes.”

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