RELIGION: Queen applauds role of Kirk congregations in ‘welcoming the stranger’

By Laura Crawford

On the opening day of this year’s General Assembly, Her Majesty The Queen has written a letter to the Church of Scotland applauding the role of congregations in offering support to Ukrainian refugees and ‘welcoming the stranger’, as well as providing Christian concern for God’s creation in tackling climate change, and supporting communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Her Majesty also put forward her prayers for the leadership of the Church as they proceed to consider the future of parish life and make difficult decisions regarding buildings and congregations.

Her Majesty The Queen is being represented this year by Lord Hodge as the Lord High Commissioner to the 2022 General Assembly.

The letter was read aloud during the opening ceremony of the General Assembly by Rev Dr George Whyte, Chaplain-in-Ordinary and Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland, pictured right.

“We are aware that throughout the last year the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to be a burden,” Her Majesty said.

“It is good to hear how Scotland’s churches and people of other faiths have been drawn together as they have faced the shared challenge of sustaining their own communities while continuing to care for their neighbours in need.

“We welcome, too, the strengthening of relationships between people of faith and those in local and national government.

“We know that the Church of Scotland engaged closely with debate engendered by the meeting of COP26 in Glasgow and we are particularly conscious that the Church is seeking to play its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as a demonstration of your Christian concern for God’s creation.

“We continue to pray for the leadership of the Church as they  consider the future of parish life, and make decisions regarding buildings and congregations.

“We ask for all those who carry these responsibilities the gifts of wisdom and compassion as they seek to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit while bearing in mind the concerns of church members.

“The tragic loss of life and the scattering of refugees as a result of the war in Ukraine has caused much distress.

“It is encouraging to know that the Church of Scotland has been able to offer support through raising funds and providing a welcome to the stranger.

“We all hope that peace will be restored and we continue to uphold in prayer those who are putting into practice the love which is at the heart of the Gospel.

“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.”

This year’s General Assembly will run until Thursday 26 May as a hybrid event, with 400 commissioners attending in the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh and 200 others participating online.

The event will be live-streamed through the Church of Scotland website, with highlights shared each day through the website, Facebook and Twitter.

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