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The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is an honorary role, held for 12 months.

Meetings of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, held in May each year, are chaired by the Moderator. He or she leads daily worship, keeps order, rules on points of order, and signs documents on behalf of the Assembly.

The Moderator is not the head of the Church, nor the leader of the Church of Scotland, nor its spokesperson. The Church of Scotland believes that Christ is Head of the Church. When asked for an opinion on important issues, the Moderator is expected to have in mind the views of the General Assembly or the relevant Church council or committee.

After the Assembly, the Moderator spends much of the rest of his or her time in office travelling as a Church representative in Scotland, other parts of the UK, Ireland and overseas in an ambassadorial capacity. Every Moderator carries out a series of visits to several Church of Scotland presbyteries, as well as undertaking a number of international tours. Regular features on his/her itinerary are visits to one of the armed forces and a stay in London around St Andrew's Day (30 November), which includes a meeting in Downing Street with the prime minister. The Moderator also visits the Scottish Parliament.

The Moderator has two chaplains who assist him or her in preparing for the General Assembly and provide support throughout Assembly week.


Selecting a Moderator

Every year in October, a committee of the Assembly meets in Edinburgh to choose a suitable candidate from an initial shortlist of nominees. The successful nominee is then known as the 'Moderator Designate'. The designate is presented at the start of the General Assembly the following May, and then, conventionally, elected unopposed.

If the moderator is a minister, they are addressed as the "Right Reverend" until their moderatorial year ends with the election of a successor. Former moderators, if ministers, are referred to as the "Very Reverend".

Technically, it has always been the case that any elder, deacon or minister could be elected. In practice, until the election of Dr Alison Elliot (an elder) in 2004, all moderators had been ministers for the previous 400 years.

Since 1966, when the first women elder was ordained, and 1968, when the first minister was ordained, the election has technically been open to women. In practice, although there have been a number of previous women nominated, Alison Elliot was the first chosen in 2004.

The first woman minister to elected was Sheilagh M. Kesting (for 2007-8). The previous Moderator (2006-7) was Dr Alan D. McDonald (minister at Cameron linked with St Leonard’s Church, St Andrews).

Current Moderator

The current Moderator (2009-10) is William Hewitt, minister at Westburn Parish Church in Greenock. [1]

Candidates for 2009

On 14 October 2008[2] it was announced that the following would be considered for nomination to be Moderator in 2009:

On 29 October it was announced that William Hewitt had been nominated as the Moderator-designate for 2009.[3]

Candidates for 2010

In October 2009[4] the Church of Scotland announced the following would be considered for nomination to be Moderator in 2010:

  • The Rev William D Brown, Minister at Murrayfield Parish Church, Edinburgh
  • The Reverend John C Christie, an interim minister currently serving at St Andrew’s, West Kilbride, Ayrshire and at the Scots Kirk, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • The Rev Dr John L McPake, Minister at Mossneuk Parish Church, East Kilbride
  • The Rev C Peter White, Minister at Sandyford Henderson Memorial Church, Glasgow

On 27 October 2009 it was announced that John Christie had been nominated as the Moderator-designate for 2010.[5]

Role in coronation services

In 1953, the Moderator took part in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey. The then-Moderator, Dr James Pitt-Watson, presented a Bible to the Queen. The Archbishop of Canterbury then said "Our gracious Queen, to keep Your Majesty ever mindful of the law and gospel of God as the rule for the whole life and government of Christian princes, we present you with this book, the most valuable thing that this world affords." The Moderator then continued, "Here is wisdom; this is the Royal law; these are the lively oracles of God". The Queen then returned the Bible to the Moderator who brought it to the Dean of Westminster to be placed upon the altar.

See also


  1. ^ "Kirk selects Moderator Designate". Church of Scotland website. http:// Retrieved 2009-07-24.  
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links



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