General Assembly 2015

This year's General Assembly took place from May 16 to 22 in the General Assembly Hall on The Mound in Edinburgh. The General Assembly has met almost every year since its inception in 1560.

It is preceded by the Ceremony of the Keys at Holyrood Palace on 15 May. This colourful tradition marks the handing over of the keys of Holyrood Palace from the City of Edinburgh to the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly.

This year's Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly will be Lord Hope of Craighead KT PC, a distinguished retired Scottish judge. Lord Hope served as Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General in Scotland. He was also one of the first Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and its first Deputy President. Lord Hope will take part in a ceremonial procession on the morning of the first day of the General Assembly. As Lord High Commissioner, he will observe the Assembly as The Queen's representative, reporting back to Her Majesty what has been debated at the Assembly. Lord Hope will also attend this year's Heart and Soul festival on 17 May in Princes Street Gardens where the Church of Scotland is celebrating what it means to be living stones of faith in our communities and in the wider world.

During General Assembly week, this annual gathering of the Church of Scotland will engage in intensive deliberation on matters of social and national interest as well as on Church policy and governance.

The issues will be debated by around 730 Commissioners drawn from congregations across Scotland and beyond. The decisions made can have an historic and long-standing impact on the future of the national Church. Reports to the General Assembly are summarised in the Blue Book [8 MB].

A mobile app is available for Apple iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. This allows users to access publications produced from the Assembly and provides other useful features including the order of business, as well as local information on travel, accommodation, entertainment and places of interest. It can/will be available for download from the General Assembly Publications website.

This year's Heart and Soul event will be during the afternoon of Sunday 17 May in West Princes Street Gardens. The theme will be 'Living Stones', celebrating the way churches the length and breadth of Scotland, and beyond, play a vital part not only in sharing faith but also in supporting and serving the communities in which they are placed. Congregations, Presbyteries and organisations will share their stories, and there will be music, youth and children's activities and other events. A programme of entertainment at the Ross Bandstand will include a launch event for the 'Decade for Ministry' vocations initiative at 1645, before the event closes with an uplifting open air service which begins at 1700. More details at Heart and Soul 2015 website.

General Assembly timetable

Saturday May 16 - 9.30am - Opening of the General Assembly

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Roll of Commissioners laid on the table
  • Election of Moderator and Prayer of Consecration (Members of Assembly stand when Moderator enters)
  • Commission to His Grace the Lord High Commissioner to be read, and order given for recording it (Members of Assembly stand)
  • Her Majesty's Letter to be read, and order given for recording it (Members of Assembly stand)
  • Address by His Grace the Lord High Commissioner, and Reply by the Moderator (Members of Assembly stand)
  • Appointment of Committee to prepare Answer to the Queen's Letter
  • Report of Standing Committee on Commissions
  • Submission of Standing Orders
  • Appointment of Committee for arranging Order of Business
  • Appointment of Panel of Tellers
  • Appointment of Committee to prepare Minute on Deceased Ministers, Missionaries and Deacons
  • Intimation of arrangements for the celebration of Holy Communion on Monday 18 May at 9.15am
  • Suspension of business - 10.30am - 10.45am (approximately)
  • Report of the Assembly Arrangements Committee
  • Report of the Scottish Bible Society and Presentation of the Bible to the Moderator
  • Report of the Delegation of Assembly
  • Minutes of the Appeals Committee of the Commission of Assembly
  • Minutes of Ministries Appeal Panel tabled
  • Report of the Committee on Overtures and Cases
  • Report of the Committee on Classifying Returns to Overtures
  • Report of the Legal Questions Committee
  • Joint Report of the Legal Questions Committee, Ministries Council, Church and Society Council, Ecumenical Relations Committee and Theological Forum of the Solemnisation of Marriages
  • Report and Supplementary Report of the Council of Assembly

Saturday May 16 - 7pm

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Address by Retiring Moderator
  • Presentation of Delegates and Visitors

Sunday May 17

  • 10.00 am Assembly Service (St Giles')
  • 12.30 pm Gaelic Service (Greyfriars Kirk)
  • 1 - 6pm Heart and Soul 2015 (Princes Street Gardens)

Monday May 18 - 9.15 am

Holy Communion

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Report of the Business Committee
  • Report of the World Mission Council
  • Report of Ecumenical Relations Committee
  • Report of Panel on Review and Reform

Tuesday May 19 - 9.15 am

Order of the day - Stevenson Prize 2pm

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Minutes
  • Report of the Church and Soceity Council
  • Joint report of the Council of Assembly, Legal Question Committee, Ministries Council, Mission and Discipleship Council and the Panel on Review and Reform on the Implementation of the Tenure Commission Recommendations
  • Report on the Iona Community board
  • Report of the Safeguarding Committee

Wednesday May 20- 9.15 am

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Minutes
  • Report and Supplementary Report of the Ministries Council
  • Report and Supplementary Report of the Social Care Council
  • Report and Supplementary Report of the Church of Scotland Guild

Thursday May 21- 9.15 am

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Minutes
  • Report of the Committee on Chaplains to Her Majesty's Forces
  • Report of the Mission and Discipleship Council
  • Report of the National Youth Assembly 2014
  • Report of the Theological Forum
  • Joint report of the Theological Forum and Legal Questions

Friday May 22- 9.15 am

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Minutes
  • Report of the Housing and Loan fund
  • Report of the General Trustees
  • Report of the Church Hymnary Trustees
  • Report of the Church of Scotland Trust
  • Report of the Church of Scotland Investors Trust
  • Report of the Church of Scotland Pension Trustees
  • Report of the Central Services Community
  • Report of the Nomination Committee
  • Report of the Selection Committee
  • Protestations called for
  • Report on the Printing of Acts
  • Closing Session
  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Report anent Deceased Ministers, Missionaries and Deacons
  • Draft Minutes of Sederunts not yet submitted to be read if required
  • Appointment of Committee to revise Minutes
  • Act Appointing Commission of Assembly
  • Act Appointing diet of next General Assembly
  • Presentations to the Moderator
  • Moderator addresses the General Assembly
  • His Grace, the Lord High Commissioner, addresses the General Assembly
  • National anthem
  • Dissolution of the General Assembly
  • Benediction