The Rev John Chalmers, who is the long-standing Principal Clerk to the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, will take the office of Moderator Designate after the Reverend Angus Morrison stood down.
He will be made Moderator when the Assembly meets in Edinburgh next month.
Mr Chalmers, 61, said his appointment was “an unexpected privilege and a real honour” and that he would “seek above all else to hold the people of the Church of Scotland together in peace and unity.”
Mr Morrison’s withdrawal had left the Kirk in confusion as it was the first time in living memory that a moderator-designate had stood down. The Kirk said that Mr Chalmers’ senior role meant he was already ”well-placed” to preside over the Assembly at short notice.
Mr Chalmers said there was an urgent need to recruit trainee ministers, and in an apparent reference to the split over the appointment of openly gay clergy, that members would have to learn to live with their differences.
Addressing the wider challenges he said the Church had to be an “instrument of healing and reconciliation in post-referendum Scotland.