General Assembly 2017

The Church of Scotland is holding 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

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.

The theme for this year's General Assembly and for the Heart and Soul festival is 'Word of Life'; a rich, multi-layered theme that invites each one of us, whether we are at the heart of faith or on the fringes of faith, to think about what, for us, those words might be: hope, welcome, peace, mercy, kindness, love and so many more. 

Whilst the words will adapt and change throughout our life journey of faith, they help us understand and give texture to the focus of our faith, Jesus of Nazareth, the embodiment of '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. Read more about the photo campaign.

Lord High Commissioner

Each year HM The Queen appoints a Lord High Commissioner as her representative to the General Assembly, unless she attends in person. This year, Her Majesty has appointed HRH The Princess Royal, 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 the Palace of Holyroodhouse 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 the City of Edinburgh by the Lord Provost to the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly.

The Princess Royal will also take part in the ceremonial procession at the Opening Session of the General Assembly and will attend the Heart and Soul festival in Princes St Gardens on Sunday, 21 May, as well as undertaking visits elsewhere in Scotland.

Mobile App

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 will be available for download from the General Assembly Publications website soon. Please note that if you downloaded the app last year you will still need this year's updated version.

More generally you can stay in touch by signing up to the Church of Scotland's monthly e-newsletter.

Heart and Soul

The 2017 Heart and Soul festival, brought around 5,000 people to Princes Street Gardens to enjoy wonderful music, singing, entertainment and worship. During the afternoon the Moderator and the Princess Royal launched the CrossReach 'Grey Cake' campaign by cutting into a grey cake to reveal its beautiful multicoloured interior. The campaign is seeking to highlight mental health and the way depression and anxiety can hide the true person within. View photos of this joyous event on the Church Facebook page.

General Assembly timetable

Saturday 20 May - 9.30 am - 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 Her Royal Highness Princess Anne the 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 Her Royal Highness Princess Anne The 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. (This Committee will meet at the close of the morning session)
  • Appointment of Panel of Tellers
  • Appointment of Committee to prepare Minute on Deceased Ministers, Missionaries and Deacons
  • Intimation of arrangements for celebration of Holy Communion on Monday 23 May, at 9.15 am
  • Address by Retiring Moderator
  • Suspension of business for twenty minutes
  • Appointment of Associate Principal Clerk
  • Presentation of Delegates and Visitors
  • Report of the Assembly Arrangements Committee (Reports 1/1)
  • Report of the Scottish Bible Society and Presentation of Bible to Moderator (Reports 1/1)
  • Report of the Delegation of the General Assembly (Reports 2/1)
  • Minutes of the Appeal Hearing before the Appeals Committee of the Commission of Assembly - August 2016 (Reports 31/1)
  • Minutes of the Appeal Hearing before the Appeals Committee of the Commission of Assembly - December 2016 Reports 32/1)
  • Report of the Committee on Overtures and Cases (Reports 3/1)
  • Report of the Ministries Appeal Panel - December 2016 (Reports 33/1)
  • Report of the Ministries Appeal Panel - April 2017 (Order of Proceedings)
  • Report of the Committee on Classifying Returns to Overtures (Reports 4/1). 26 .Report of the Legal Questions Committee (Reports 5/1)
  • Report and Supplementary Report of the Council of Assembly (Reports 6/1 and Order of Proceedings)
  • Joint Report of the Council of Assembly, Ministries Council, Mission & Discipleship, the Panel on Review & Reform and the Legal Questions Committee (Reports 7/1)

Sunday 21 May - 10 am

  • 10.00 am - Assembly Service (St Giles')
  • 12.30 pm - Gaelic Service (Greyfriars Kirk)
  • 1pm - 6.00 pm - 'Heart and Soul 2017', Princes Street Gardens

Monday 22 May 9:15 am

  • Holy Communion
  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Report of the Business Committee
  • Report of the World Mission Council (Reports 8/1)
  • Joint Report of the World Mission Council and Church & Society Council (Reports 9/1) Report and Supplementary Report of the Social Care Council (Reports 10/1 and Order of Proceedings)
  • Report and Supplementary Report of the Panel on Review and Reform (Reports 11/1 and Order of Proceedings)
  • Report of the Council of Assembly (Property Matters).

Tuesday 23 May 9:15 am

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Minutes
  • Report and Supplementary Report of the Church and Society Council (Reports 12/1 and Order of Proceedings)
  • Report of the Church of Scotland Guild (Reports13/1 )
  • Joint Report of the Church of Scotland Guild and the National Youth Assembly (Reports 14/1)
  • Report of the Iona Community Board (Reports 15/1).

Wednesday 24 May 9:15 am

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Minutes
  • Report of the Ecumenical Relations Committee (Reports 16/1)
  • Report of the Safeguarding Committee (Reports 17/1)
  • Report and Supplementary Report of the Ministries Council (Reports 18/1 and Order of Proceedings).

Thursday 25 May 9:15 am

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Minutes
  • Report of the Committee on Chaplains to Her Majesty's Forces (Reports 19/1)
  • Report of the Mission and Discipleship Council (Reports 20/1)
  • Report of the National Youth Assembly 2016 (Reports 21/1)
  • Report of the Theological Forum (Reports 22/1).

Friday 26 May 9:15 am

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Minutes
  • Report of the General Trustees (Reports 23/1)
  • Report of the Housing and Loan Fund (Reports 24/1 )
  • Report of the Church Hymnary Trustees (Reports 25/1)
  • Report of the Chalmers Lectureship Trust (Reports 26/1)
  • Report of the Church of Scotland Trust (Reports 27/1 )
  • Report of the Church of Scotland Investors Trust (Reports 28/1)
  • Report of the Church of Scotland Pension Trustees (Reports 29/1 )
  • Report of the Nomination Committee (Reports 30/1)
  • Report of the Selection Committee
  • Protestations called for
  • Report on the Printing of Acts.

Closing session 3:00 pm

  • Constitution of Assembly
  • Report anent Deceased Ministers, Missionaries and Deacons
  • Draft Minutes of Sederunts not yet submitted to be read if required. 4.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
  • Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, the High Commissioner, addresses the General Assembly

National anthem

  • Dissolution of the General Assembly

The Benediction