Church of Scotland Moderator installed in online ceremony

The service took place on what would have been the first day of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Church of Scotland Moderator installed in online ceremony Andrew O’Brien

The new Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has been installed in a special service which was streamed online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The service to install Right Reverend Dr Martin Fair took place in the General Assembly Hall in Edinburgh on what would have been the first day of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland which was cancelled for the first time in 330 years due to the outbreak.

However instead of taking place before an audience of around 800 commissioners and spectators, only five people, a BSL interpreter and a skeleton camera crew were there, all following strict social distancing guidelines.

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair succeeds Very Rev Colin Sinclair as the Kirk’s ambassador at home and abroad.

Dr Fair, 56, will continue to serve as the minister of St Andrew’s Parish Church in Arbroath and will undertake Moderatorial duties when required until further notice.

He said: “I’m not sure I’ve ever felt a greater weight of responsibility but neither have I ever felt more supported, practically and by the prayers of God’s people.”

He added: “Let me assure the nation that the Church of Scotland, with our partner churches, will continue to pray for and support those who are most acutely affected.

“And the same commitment I make to those who, 75 years after VE Day, find themselves on this new front line – we value you deeply.”

Dr Fair’s wife Elaine and Mr Sinclair and his wife Ruth attended the service along with Principal Clerk Rev Dr George Whyte who ensured correct process was followed and read a passage from the Bible as he would have done at the opening of the General Assembly.

The service was broadcast live on the Church of Scotland website and Facebook page and included a video message from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and a former Moderator, Very Rev Jimmy Simpson.

The First Minister said: “I want to sincerely thank Very Rev Colin Sinclair for his work over the past year and particularly the last few difficult months caused by the restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“His continued efforts to support the community, even as we stay apart, are hugely appreciated.

“I also want to send my very best wishes to the Right Rev Dr Martin Fair on his appointment as Moderator.

“At this challenging time, the Church continues to provide support and guidance to people across our country – through virtual services, pastoral duties, and charitable work in our communities.

“I’m hugely grateful to everyone involved and I look forward to working with the new Moderator, in tackling the challenges, and also seizing the opportunities, that lie ahead.”

Dr Fair also received a letter expressing best wishes from the Duke of Cambridge, known as the Earl of Strathearn in Scotland, who was meant to be Lord High Commissioner at the General Assembly, his grandmother the Queen’s representative.

During the service the Moderator’s chaplains, Rev Gregor McIntyre and Rev Catherine Beattie and Mr Sinclair’s chaplains, Rev Andrew Anderson and Rev Tim Sinclair, recited prayers via video conferencing.

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