Group shot with Earl and Countess of Wessex

The new Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has described the moment he was installed this morning in Edinburgh as a “humbling and uplifting” experience.

The Right Rev John Chalmers received the millennium cross and ring from Very Rev Lorna Hood as he was installed as the 86th Moderator of the modern era.

“There was an extraordinary sense in which the whole Church is behind you,” Mr Chalmers said.

“It is both humbling and uplifting at one and the same time. It will be a very special year ahead.”

Day One General Assembly of The Church of Scotland

This is the text of the Queen’s letter which Prince Edward brought on Her Majesty’s behalf:

“Right Reverend and Well Beloved, We Greet You Well. We gladly renew on this Occasion Our pledge to preserve and uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland. In doing so, We acknowledge, with Gratitude to Almighty God, the Church’s steadfast witness to the Christian faith and its services to our people in Scotland and in many lands overseas.

Throughout the history of Scotland, the Church of Scotland has played a key part in shaping the governance of Scotland and Scottish society.

“We recognise that contained within the articles declaratory of the Church of Scotland, church and state hold mutual duties towards one another.

“So in this important year of referendum we pray that whatever the outcome, people of faith and people of goodwill will work together for the social good of Scotland.

“We recognise too the important role that the church can play in holding the people of Scotland together, in healing divisions and in safeguarding the interests of the most vulnerable.

“In this year in which Scotland will host the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, we commend to you those who will come from around the world as competitors and spectators.

“We are confident that the church will play its full part in welcoming, supporting and extending the hand of friendship to the diverse peoples of the Commonwealth.

“This year the First World War will be remembered, when people around the world are called to commemorate the valour, courage and sacrifice of so many who gave their lives in the many battles that scarred Europe from 1914 to 1918.

“As well as being a time of commemoration, we believe that it is a time to pray for the peacemakers of the world, and for a day when nations shall live at peace with one another.”

“As always it pleases Us greatly to be informed of the many good works of the Church over this past year and in particular We are greatly encouraged by the joint venture with the Church of England and the Methodist Church in founding the Churches Mutual Credit Union.  We welcome this initiative as another example of the way in which the Churches seek to serve the needs and interests of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

“Once again We are conscious that in this Assembly you will give consideration to matters which will lead to passionate debate, in these circumstances We pray that your considerations will be marked by gracious contributions and Our prayers will be for the peace and unity of the Church of Scotland.

“May your faith and courage be strengthened in your deliberations during the week ahead and through the times to come.  As We are unable in Our Own Person to be present at your Assembly this year, We have chosen Our most dearly beloved Son His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Viscount Severn to be Our representative being assured that Our choice will meet with your approval.

And so, praying  that the blessing of Almighty God may attend your deliberations, We bid you heartily farewell.”

Photos Andrew O’Brien

Lord High Commissioner Prince Andrew