General Assembly 2017

The Church of Scotland will hold its annual General Assembly from 20-26 May 2017 at the General Assembly Hall on the Mound in Edinburgh. More than 730 commissioners from congregations across Scotland and beyond will come together to take part in the event, a unique mix of debate, tradition and worship

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Over the course of the week they will be joined by more than 150 people from associated partners and other organisations who work with the Church. The public gallery is open each day for any members of the public who are interested in observing the proceedings.

First held in 1560, the General Assembly is the Kirk's highest court, made up of commissioners who are generally ministers, elders and deacons, as well as youth representatives and around 40 international emissaries from partner churches around the globe. The General Assembly considers reports from each of the Church's councils, discusses issues of national and international importance, and makes decisions that help set the Church of Scotland's direction for the coming years.

Decisions made at the General Assembly can have an historic and long-standing impact on the future of the national Church. However, the Church of Scotland values thoughtful, well considered decision making, and seeks consensus whenever possible, so contentious issues are usually debated for several years before a final resolution is reached.

Word of Life

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This year the theme of the General Assembly is 'Word of Life'.

Congregations and groups of all ages who are connected with the Church are being encouraged to print 'Word of Life' letters out and put a picture on social media. Join in and use the hashtag #wordoflife.

Lord High Commissioner

Each year HM the Queen appoints a Lord High Commissioner as her personal representative to the General Assembly, unless she attends herself. This year, she has appointed HRH The Princess Royal Princess Anne, who previously performed the role in 1996.

The Princess Royal will observe the proceedings and report back to Her Majesty what has been debated at the Assembly.

The Princess Royal's first official duty will be to take part in the Ceremony of the Keys, held at Holyrood Palace the day before the General Assembly convenes -- which this year is Friday, 19 May. The 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.

The Princess Royal will also take part in the ceremonial procession that opens the General Assembly and will attend the Heart and Soul festival in Princes St Gardens on Sunday, 21 May.

General Assembly timetable - To be confirmed