Reflecting on an inspirational year: Rt Rev Susan Brown

As Rt Rev Susan Brown prepares to step down as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, here she has written a reflection on her year in the role, from far-flung trips to India to meeting with congregations in Shetland, and the many friends made along the way.

Rt Rev Susan Brown at Heart and Soul 2018
Rt Rev Susan Brown at Heart and Soul 2018

How on earth do you sum up a year full of the most amazing opportunities? How do you begin to express in words the privilege it is to meet people of every kind the length and breadth of Scotland and beyond?

Listening to the stories of individuals in churches, on the street, at work, in schools and universities, prisons, hospitals and hospices, is mind blowing. The way people trust you with their joys, challenges and hurts is so, so humbling.

Conducting worship in very old and very new buildings in the tiniest island communities to rural Aberdeenshire and the Borders, to central belt towns and cities, has been the greatest honour.

Not because the buildings are important but because the people who turn their churches into living stones are truly incredible and are making such a positive difference in so many creative ways to the communities around them.

I have learned so much from this past year, especially from the presbyteries I visited where there is the chance to spend a reasonable length of time getting to know people and getting a better sense of the context in which people are living and working, worshipping and serving.

Sincere thanks to the Presbyteries of Annandale and Eskdale, Kirkcaldy, England and Hamilton for all your hard work in arranging such full, interesting and insightful programmes.

I am grateful, too, to Catherine and to all those in 121 who have helped and guided me through these last twelve months and more: the 4th floor crew, the World Mission Council, the Church and Society Council and the stars who are the Communications Team. All so patient. They are absolute gems.

I have learned a lot about the reach of Crossreach. The work it does across every age group is wonderful.

I know well of its care for the elderly but it was a joy to meet those benefiting from counselling, recovering from addiction, being helped through dementia with dignity, supporting those with learning difficulties or autism, as well as seeing Crossreach's work with the homeless and the many other projects they have that bring hope.

The trips overseas are those that tend to catch people's eye and I was delighted to be able to represent the Church of Scotland in visits to our partner churches and projects in Uruguay and Argentina and also in India and Pakistan.

I found the experiences in these places humbling. I was so kindly treated by everyone and the insight offered into a way of life for Christians in those contexts was eye-opening and inspirational.

I confess, too, that I have in my grasp now quite a number of recipes that, when cooked, will remind me of people and events.

I wish I had kept a journal but somehow there were not quite enough hours in the day.

What I do have, however, are hundreds of photos and memories to last a lifetime.

I confess I feel a little selfish because I am the one who has benefited most from the past year. To all those who played even just the tiniest part in, I thank you.

From the bottom of my heart. Be blessed as you continue to be that blessing.

With deepest gratitude.