King's letter reaffirms pledge to the Church of Scotland
Published on 20 May 2023 3 minutes read
On the opening day of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, His Majesty King Charles III has written reaffirming his pledge to "preserve and uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland".
The oath was His Majesty's first act after being proclaimed King.
Each General Assembly a letter is presented to commissioners on behalf of the monarch, with this year's read aloud by Rev Fiona Smith, Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland.
The King will be represented at the General Assembly by Lord Hodge, who remains in the role of Lord High Commissioner for the second year in a row.
His Majesty also expressed gratitude for the messages of condolence he received following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.
The letter states that it was "most heartening to learn about the historic Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to South Sudan by His Holiness Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the past Moderator".
His Majesty then refers to the current challenges facing the Church of Scotland and says "our prayers remain with you and may the Holy Spirit continue to guide the Church with wisdom, grace and hope in all its decision-making".
This year, the General Assembly runs from Saturday 20 to Thursday 25 May and is themed, 'Remember who you are'
The full letter reads:
Right Reverend and Well Beloved, We Greet You Well. We gladly renew on this Occasion Our pledge to preserve and uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland. In doing so, We acknowledge, with Gratitude to Almighty God, the Church's steadfast witness to the Christian faith and its services to our people in Scotland and in many lands overseas.
We deeply appreciated the many expressions of condolences we received on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, our beloved Mother, and for the warmth and dignity of the National Service of Thanksgiving for her life that was held at St Giles' Cathedral.
We are very conscious at this time of the pain for so many people across the world who are suffering from the vagaries of war and poverty. We are, as ever, inspired by the way in which the Church of Scotland, with other Churches and faith communities, has expressed the Gospel imperative to the poor and made the care of refugees and asylum-seekers such a priority.
It was most heartening to learn about the historic Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to South Sudan by His Holiness Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the past Moderator. Their messages of justice, peace and reconciliation were made all the more powerful by their visible presence which signified both the unity and diversity of the Churches. These messages are equally vital in Sudan where people are again threatened by conflict. We pray for a swift end to the current hostilities to ease the human suffering and bring peace.
We were also greatly encouraged by the signing of the St Margaret's Declaration of Friendship between the Church and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland, as well as with the Church's continued commitment to inter-faith dialogue to deepen understanding and relationships with other faith communities.
This work is vital to support and strengthen local communities. Our prayers are with you as you help to lead the way in friendships which contribute to peace, reconciliation and a commitment to our common humanity.
We are aware of the challenges which the Church is facing as it continues the process of reform, as well as its discernment of God's will for the future shape of ministry and mission across Scotland. Our prayers remain with you, and may the Holy Spirit continue to guide the Church with wisdom, grace and hope in all its decision-making.
We also remain hugely encouraged that even in these uncertain times the local church continues to serve tirelessly their neighbours who are in need - such faith in action is truly a light for the world.
May your faith and courage be strengthened in your deliberations during the week ahead and through the times to come. As We are unable in Our Own Person to be present at your Assembly this year, We have chosen Our Right Trusty and Well Beloved Counsellor, The Right Honourable Lord Hodge, to be Our representative, being assured that Our choice will meet with your approval.
And so, praying that the blessing of Almighty God may attend your deliberations, We bid you heartily farewell.