A new Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly has been installed.
At the General Assembly in Edinburgh, the Rt Rev Colin Sinclair took up the role of chairing the week-long event and representing the church throughout the year.
The gathering began with hymns, prayer and a reading of Acts 3 in which the disciple Peter heals a lame beggar, before the Rt Rev Susan Brown installed her successor.
Addressing the 700-strong congregation of ministers, deacons and elders, who are meeting in the capital to make decisions on Kirk policy and governance, Ms Brown spoke of her gratitude for the 12 months spent in the role of Moderator and said: “That great privilege now falls now to another.”
“It has been a year I will never forget, principle because of the people I have met in so many different capacities, including colleagues who have not only welcomed me but so graciously shared their stories with me,” she said.
With the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon watching on alongside Scotland’s Lord Provosts, the General Assembly approved the appointment of the new Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Addressing Mr Sinclair, Ms Brown said: “You care passionately about communicating the good news of Jesus Christ to people of all ages and all parts of the world. You love to see the difference faith in Christ makes to people’s lives - the impact both spiritually and physically.
“The great privilege and honour before you in this next year is both weighty and a joy. You will be asked to say much; can I encourage you to listen much, too, because you will hear so many wonderful things.”
In his opening address, Mr Sinclair asked for prayers for “grace, wisdom and love, and forgiveness for when I get it wrong,” and then thanked all those who had been involved in his spiritual journey.
The minister, who has served at Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh since 1996, said: “I had no idea that when Jesus said ‘follow me’ all those years ago as a teenager how exciting would be the adventure ahead.
“It would take me all around the world and to meet people at every level and stage of life.
“Can I thank you once again and pray I may be worthy of the trust that you have shown to me.”
The church said that ministers, elders and deacons, will debate and vote on two “bold” plans to reform governance and the practices of the charity
Proposed changes include the creation of a 12-person trustee body to hold responsibility for finances, while the number of presbyteries could be reduced from 45 to 12 and Kirk Sessions could be reduced in size for local churches to retain more resources to support mission work.
A fund of between £20 million to £25 million has been proposed to start new worshipping communities and to fund new work with children, young people and young adults. The fund will also be used for Church projects that support communities across Scotland.
Commissioners will also be asked to consider plans to reduce administration costs by up to 30% and merge four of the Church’s councils into two.