The General Assembly 2004 of the Church of Scotland is now underway. It is scheduled from Saturday 15 May to Friday 21 May. Comprising around 850 commissioners, including ministers, elders and members of the Diaconate, the Assembly meets in the Assembly Hall on the Mound in central Edinburgh.
The General Assembly, which meets each year in Edinburgh, has the authority to make laws determining how the Church of Scotland operates. It also is the highest court of the Church in which cases can be heard in matters of litigation.
For the week, the Assembly will be divided into eight sessions: Opening of the Assembly, Living Stones Built into a Spiritual Temple, The Church in all the World, Focus on Change, Church and Society, Telling the Good News Together, Developing the Church’s Ministry as well as Growing, caring and worshipping in Christ's name.
In the first two days at the weekend, the highlight was the installation of the new moderator, Dr. Alison Elliot- the first ever female moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Dr. Elliot was born in Edinburgh and has gained a PhD in Children’s Language Development from Edinburgh University. Her work with the Kirk has included the convenership of the Church and Nation Committee.
Her responsibility as a moderator is to chair the meetings of the General Assembly, to lead daily worship and various other administration duties. She will also travel as a Kirk representative in Scotland, Ireland and overseas in an ambassadorial capacity. The role of moderator will be held for 12 months.
On Monday, the Assembly Council, Pension Trustees, Board of Stewardship and Finance, Board of National Mission and Stakeholders Conference Group presented their reports.
Due to the shortage of funds which threatens the finance of mission works , the report from the Board of Stewardship and Finance calls for a 'sacrificial giving' from all members of the Church.
“It is of the utmost importance that sacrificial giving is taught and promoted if the Church is to have the resources, locally and nationally, to proclaim the gospel in today’s Scotland and today’s world," It says.
The Board of National Mission suggests the General Assembly to approve the principle of flexible tenure for ministers, so that ministers can fully utilise the gifts that they have and want to offer in Christ’s service. Shared ministry across parish boundaries can also then be make possible.
The General Assembly is once again broadcasting live over the Internet following the success in 2003. This year, the stream is available in both video and audio-only formats. The programme details are frequently updated on the church’s website.