General Assembly 2020 to be held online in October

This year the Church of Scotland will take an unprecedented step when - amid the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic - the 2020 General Assembly will convene remotely during the evening of Friday 2 October and all day on Saturday 3 October.

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair
Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair is the 2020-21 Moderator of the General Assembly.

In previous years some 800 people would be converging on the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh. This year the Commissioners, Youth Representatives and Corresponding Members will take part remotely—from congregations and presbyteries around the country and indeed the world.

Only a small number of people will be in the Assembly Hall: those running the proceedings, those reporting to the Assembly and those livestreaming and recording the event.

Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk to the Church said:

“We are really pleased to be holding the General Assembly of 2020 when earlier in the year it seemed we could not meet. The use of technology, while not without its challenges, will help us make the decisions that are needed now to guide what we do in the coming months.

“Given that this is a new way of working for everyone involved we ask for grace and patience as we explore what technology can do for us.”

Important decisions will be made

Of necessity, the 2020 General Assembly will be much shorter than usual and there won’t be the same valuable opportunities to network, socialise and enjoy one another’s company. We will not have a Lord High Commissioner although the Queen will write to the Assembly expressing her support and encouragement.

Nevertheless, there will be prayer and worship led by the Moderator and the Commissioners will be making important decisions which need to be made now so that the Church can move forward. Under consideration will be reports from the Assembly Trustees, the Faith Impact Forum and the Faith Nurture Forum.

Debate will range from church finance to the Church’s engagement with the pressing issues facing our nation and the global community.

This year too, the discussions, the voting and the amendments will all be done online.

Commissioners and Youth Representatives will sign-in through the Church of Scotland website to a new Assembly Hub, where they can ask questions and put forward amendments and new ideas.

Corresponding Members will also be able to sign in to the Assembly Hub through the website. Training sessions to ensure everyone can participate effectively will be held in advance of the Assembly

Everyone is invited to watch

We invite everyone—wherever you are – to join in and watch the livestream here on the Church of Scotland website or Facebook page. The Friday session will run from 7pm to around 9pm and the Saturday session will run from 9.15am to approximately 5pm. On Saturday there will be coffee and lunch breaks.

The original plan to hold the General Assembly in Edinburgh from 16-22 May 2020 had to be set aside due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To ensure the work of the Church continued in challenging times, the Commission of Assembly has dealt with urgent business and a special service was organised to install the Moderator Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair.