The Moderator of the General Assembly of Church of Scotland
is a Minister, Elder or Deacon of the Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....
chosen to "moderate" (i.e. chair) the annual General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the sovereign and highest court of the Church of Scotland, and is thus the Church's governing body An Introduction to Practice and Procedure in the Church of Scotland, A Gordon McGillivray, 2nd Edition .-Church courts:As a Presbyterian church,...
, which is held for a week in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...
The Moderator is normally a minister of considerable experience and held in high esteem in the Church of Scotland. The Moderator is nominated by the "Committee to Nominate the Moderator", which consists of one representative from each of the Church of Scotland's 40+ presbyteries. The Moderator must, however, also be formally elected at the Commissioners (i.e. all representatives) at start of the General Assembly - this is in practice a formality.
The office is held for one year only. Following the week of the General Assembly, the Moderator effectively acts as an ambassador for Church of Scotland, frequently being invited to represent the Church at official events or at special services for congregations.
In 2004 Dr Alison Elliot
Alison Elliot OBE is the Associate Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2004 she became the first woman ever to be elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland...
became the first woman (and first Elder for approximately 400 years) to be elected Moderator. Three years later the Very Rev Dr Sheilagh M. Kesting
Sheilagh Kesting is a Scottish minister and the first female minister to be elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland...
became the first woman minister to be elected to the office.
If the Moderator is a minister, he/she is styled Right Reverend
The Right Reverend is a style applied to certain religious figures.*In the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain it applies to bishops except that The Most Reverend is used for archbishops .*In some churches with a...
during his/her term of office and Very Reverend
The Very Reverend is a style given to certain religious figures.*In the Roman Catholic Church, by custom, priests who hold positions of particular note: e.g...
The Moderator takes part in the Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...
of British monarchs. At the Coronation in 1953, the Moderator presented a Bible to the Queen, saying, "Here is wisdom, this is the royal law, these are the lively Oracles of God."
Coat of arms
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has an official coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...
awarded by the Lord Lyon King of Arms
The Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of Lyon Court, is the most junior of the Great Officers of State in Scotland and is the Scottish official with responsibility for regulating heraldry in that country, issuing new grants of arms, and serving as the judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon, the oldest...
. It includes a shield showing the burning bush, plus the Quigrich
- the crozier of St Fillan - behind the shield (with the curved head of the Quigrich
visible above the shield). The shield is surmounted by a black Geneva bonnet - closely associated with John Knox. Similar to the coat of arms of an archbishop, there are the addition of twenty blue tassels arranged with ten on each side.