Church of Scotland: Presence in Society

2014. június 24., kedd

The Church of Scotland General Assembly is an important event in the life of the Scottish Church that takes place every year in Edinburgh. This year the head of the Mission Department, Rev. Eszter Dani, was invited to represent the Reformed Church in Hungary at the Assembly as an international delegate.

The General Assembly, held on 17-23 May, serves as the highest decision-making body in the Church of Scotland and is made up of voting commissioners, pastors and elders from each presbytery in the Church of Scotland, and non-voting commissioners, which includes international guests and a group of youth delegates that were elected by presbyteries to be representatives during the meetings. Rt Rev. John Chalmers led the proceedings as Moderator of the General Assembly after Moderator-Designate Rev. Dr. Angus Morrison decided to withdraw prior to the meeting due to health reasons.

This year, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex oversaw the Assembly’s proceedings as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly. Each year a representative of the British Sovereignty is named to the position. The Lord High Commissioner participated in worship services and attended additional events, such as Heart and Soul an outdoor celebration in the center of Edinburgh with live music performances and opportunities for the public to see the ways in which the Church of Scotland is present in the country and around the world.

Eszter Dani was also a part of Heart and Soul, participating in a public interview with the Church of Scotland’s Mission and Discipleship Council about the social situation facing the RCH and about the mission work of the Church. Aside from this event, she met with Alister Bull of the Mission and Discipleship Council concerning future cooperation between the two Churches, discussed the Church of Scotland’s “priority area” model with Martin Johnston and the topic of church revision, in which Dani is heavily involved for the RCH, with Donald Campbell, convener of the Panel on Review and Reform.

One important topic on the agenda this year was Scotland’s future, specifically the debate over the Scottish independence referendum. Prior to the vote, which is scheduled for 18 September, the Assembly took the opportunity to organize a public forum on the subject. Seven hundred people attended the event to participate in the “respectful dialogue,” which according to the Church’s website “demonstrated the Church of Scotland’s long-standing tradition of staging events of national significance.”

Moderator of the debate, Rev. Chalmers, urged commissioners in attendance: “Find the local contributors, place before them the ground rules that will allow this dialogue to happen…and why they need to work hard to ensure that on the day after the referendum there is no ‘us and them’, only ‘we’ and ‘us’.”

When asked about her experience at the General Assembly, Dani said, “The Church of Scotland wants to be present in society in the way Jesus Christ was: in fellowship with the poorest. Being among those living on the margins was very important in his service. For the Church living in Christ, it is important not only to preach it but to live it out genuinely.”



Text and photo: Amy Lester

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Our church through American eyes

We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.