A former isles MP’s time as Kirk moderator ends today [Saturday] as the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly gets under way in Edinburgh.
Jim Wallace is being succeeded by Rev Dr Ian Greenshields, who is due to be officially installed at what will be the first hybrid General Assembly.
Dr Greenshields, 68, has served as the minister of St Margaret’s Community Church in Dunfermline since 2007.
The assembly will see Lord Wallace QC of Tankerness, who is an elder at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, supervise the passing of the ring and chain of office to Dr Greenshields.
Meeting in person and online, ministers, elders and deacons will make key decisions that will affect the future of the Church of Scotland against a backdrop of major reforms and unprecedented challenges.
Commissioners will be asked to consider approving an overture to change a standing church law to enable ministers and deacons to apply to become authorised celebrants to conduct same-sex marriages, if they wish.
A report to the General Assembly shows that 29 presbyteries approved the “Solemnisation of Same Sex Marriage Overture,” with 12 voting against.
The General Assembly will also be invited to welcome an historic Declaration of Friendship with the Catholic Church in Scotland, which is based on “our shared faith in Christ”.
Other topics include the war in Ukraine, work to support asylum seekers and refugees and advocating for better access to vaccines in poorer countries.
Speaking after he was named Moderator Designate, Dr Greenshields said: “I am honoured and humbled to have been chosen and I aim to represent the Church and God in a way that is positive, instructive and hopeful.
“There are a great many challenges facing our society today including poverty, mental health, social isolation, addiction and climate change and the church is active in supporting those in genuine need.”