Cramond minister is Moderator Designate

Rev Dr Russell Barr outside Cramond Kirk

The Church of Scotland has named the founder of a homeless charity as the next Moderator of the General Assembly.

The Rev Dr Russell Barr, chairman of Edinburgh-based Fresh Start which has helped 2,000 people get back on their feet in the last year, will take up the 12-month leadership role in May 2016.

The 62-year-old, who is minister at the city's Cramond Kirk and set up the charity more than 15 years ago, said he was "excited, honoured and overwhelmed" to have been appointed.

Reflecting on being chosen to succeed the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Dr Barr, who has held his current charge since 1993, said: "It is not a role that I ever imagined being asked to do.

"It is humbling to be elected by your peers to serve the Church in this way.

"I will seek to use the role to raise moral and ethical issues and publicise the important part the Church plays in public life."

Dr Barr, who enjoys golf, rugby, opera and reading in his spare time, said he also hoped to raise greater awareness of homelessness and food poverty.

He revealed that Fresh Start, which is supported by more than 80 congregations in Edinburgh and employs 18 people, provides food and offers cookery classes and lessons on budgeting and growing fruit and vegetables.

Dr Barr is very supportive of the Church of Scotland's Tomorrow's Calling campaign which is seeking to recruit a new generation of ministers to lead nearly 1,400 congregations across the country.

He described the job as the "best in the world".

Dr Barr is married to Margaret, a retired secondary school biology teacher, with whom he has a son, Robert, and daughter, Lindsey.

The grandfather of two is convener of the Presbytery of Edinburgh's superintendence committee and a member of the business committee.

Dr Barr, who has a doctorate of ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary in the USA, served as presbytery moderator in 2011-12 and was chaplain to the Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly in 2012-13.

He was convener of the Africa and Caribbean Committee of the Church of Scotland's World Mission Council between 2011-2015.