The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the highest decision making body of the institution of the Church. Each year representatives of the Church meet together to approve, or not, reports and 'deliverances' on policy. The Assembly lasts a week, not because it takes a week for the Assembly to come to any decision (contrary to popular opinion) but because of the breadth and scope of the decisions to be make.
The Session Clerk from Acharacle and the Minister are at Assembly this year and will be putting up a few posts on the week.
Saturday 20th May. - The Assembly was opened with pomp and ceremony. The Princess Royal, Princess Anne was in attendance while last year's Moderator (chair of meetings and spokesperson for the church) was succeeded by this year's Moderator (it's an annual appointment). Here's a link to the CofS main website with some of the details. http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news_and_events...
In the afternoon there were seven reports presented from various committees and the session finished earlier than expected as there were no lengthy debates.
Sunday 21st May - Worship at St Giles. This year's Moderator, Rev Dr Derek Browning preached about hope. There was singing from the choir, more pomp and ceremonial. Coming from an area where congregations for worship are usually small, this was an opportunity to be part of something much bigger than we are used to; the High Kirk was so full there really was standing room only (as worship used to be before the invention of pews!). The singing of the congregation reverberated up to the fan vaulting and the people rejoiced in worshipping the God who brings hope to the future.
Here are a couple of photos from the walk up to St Giles (There will be a better photo of St Giles soon) and one of the view we had of proceedings.
General Assembly is not only focussed on decision making and guidance for the future of the Church but also when people get together and celebrate Church life. On Sunday in Princes Street Gardens is Heart and Soul where there are displays of aspects of what the church actually does, as against says, are showcased. We'll be going along and joining in and will post photos when we return. http://www.heartandsoul.org.uk/home
Heart and Soul - this was an interesting afternoon! There were a good number of tents and stalls lining the main pathway through Princes Street gardens - each of which highlighted some aspect of church life. Late in the afternoon worship drew people to the main stand where the Heart and Soul band led worship through music. As you can see the seating was full. Around the edges were flags from many of the CofS's 48 presbyteries.
For most of the rest of the week there were reports presented by the various committees and councils of the CofS. Each committee or council has its own remit and responsibility e.g. the General Trustees look after all legal aspects of the administration of the organisation and Mission & Discipleship help to resource congregations and ministers with materials for worship.
Debates take place in the Assembly Hall which is an integral part of the University of Edinburgh. In the first of these pictures is a view of the Assembly Hall and in the second a board with photographs from those congregations that have participated in the Word of Life Campaign (more details on the Ardnamurchan blog page).
The week was intense but interesting. Having a vote in the decision making process of the Church of Scotland is a big responsibility and can be challenging depending on the issues being decided. Alongside the main sessions there are fringe events and, of course, the social side of being there. It's not often ministers and elders are able to get together in such numbers (each year a different group of representatives from congregations are able to attend) and that lends itself to many a cuppa and or meal.
The Acharacle Session Clerk and the minister came back weary but having had a good time. It's roughly three years until the opportunity to attend will come again - we should have recovered by then.