This week is the general assembly week, the annual gathering of the Church of Scotland, which will see decisions made on matters of church policy and governance, with Her Majesty The Queen is being represented by Prince Edward for the week.
The issues will be debated by around 730 Commissioners drawn from congregations across Scotland and beyond. Decisions made can have an historic and long-standing impact on the future of the national church; the assembly has been held almost every year since 1500 at The Mound in Edinburgh.
This year issues will include gay marriage, on which the Scottish Church has taken a neutral position, and Independence; there will also be discussion regarding how the Church recruits new members.
Whilst in Scotland, Prince Edward and his wife The Countess of Wessex will be styled ‘His and Her Grace’ instead of ‘His or Her Royal Highness’, and will rank immediately behind The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh; our previous article explains this further. Edward will not be known as The Earl of Wessex, but simply Prince Edward or Lord High Commissioner; Sophie remains the Countess of Wessex.
— Chloe Cambridge (@RoyalsWithChloe) May 19, 2014
The Queen’s letter was also read aloud, in front of Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond and the Lord High Commissioner, which mentioned this year’s referendum on Independence: “In this important year of referendum we pray that whatever the outcome, people of faith and people of goodwill will work together for the social good of Scotland.” read the letter.
His Grace also made a speech about community:
“Community is about looking out for each other, but how can we do this as many of our communities become larger and less personal? The state has developed all sorts of ways and means and we have devised ever more sophisticated legal systems and processes, but in doing so are we creating a more harmonious society?
“In my mind there is a significant difference between the assertion of legalistic rights versus the Christian teaching of responsibility. For instance, I could argue that it’s my right to play my music as loudly as I please. However, this is bound to infringe someone else’s right to peace and quiet.
“There is no clear answer to this, so we could come to blows or it requires going to court and engaging two lawyers going to court and arguing the case. One of us will be happy and the other unhappy. We will both probably have had our characters besmirched and our lawyers will be, well, better off.
“However, as a Christian I am taught to consider others and in this case the likely impact of playing my music too loudly.
“Maybe this was just the way I was brought up, but I can’t help questioning which creates a more harmonious society – the individual demanding their right which will ultimately lead to conflict or the individual being aware of their responsibility and acting accordingly?”
Their Graces also opened Dock Park in Dumfries this morning, as they carry out engagements during the time the assembly debates and discusses it issues.
— LoriCarnochan (@LoriCarnITV) May 19, 2014
Picture: Clare Ambler on Twitter