General Assembly to take centre stage on independence referendum debate

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will this afternoon debate the question of Scottish independence.

More than 800 commissioners from the Church will have the opportunity to contribute their views on one of the most historically significant moments in Scottish history.

Her Majesty the Queen sent a message to the General Assembly, in which she stated: “In this important year of referendum, we pray that whatever the outcome, people of faith and people of good will, will work together for the social good of Scotland.

“We recognise too the important role the Church can play in holding the people of Scotland together, in healing division and safeguarding the interests of the most vulnerable.”

The Church of Scotland is committed to a position of neutrality on the referendum but recognises that its commissioners and members have much to contribute to the substance of the discussion.

Chaired by the new Moderator Right Rev John Chalmers, the General Assembly will hear from four speakers before the session is opened for contributions on Tuesday afternoon.

Author and lecturer Rev Dr Doug Gay of Glasgow University will speak for the Yes campaign.

He said: “I’m looking forward to seeing the Church model of respectful dialogue used on the independence referendum question and to listening to friendly debate from all sides of the issue.”

Douglas Alexander MP will propose his views on the Better Together campaign.

Former Moderator of the General Assembly, Alison Elliot OBE, will pose some of the serious questions facing undecided voters.

John Sturrock QC will reflect on the debate at the end and highlight some of the most helpful and profound contributions.

There will be no vote at the end of the debate.