Closing Ceremony of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

The Duke of Cambridge – Earl of Strathearn in Scotland – was appointed as the Lord High Commissioner to represent the Queen at this year’s General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which was postponed from last year due to the ongoing pandemic. The Duke and Duchess carried out a series of engagements, more HERE, as part of Lord High Commissioner’s Week. Learn More about the Royal Family at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

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On the afternoon of May 27th, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Earl and Countess of Strathearn in Scotland – attended the Closing Ceremony and the Dissolution of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in the Church Assembly Hall in Edinburgh. The Duke, as this year’s Lord High Commissioner, gave the closing address, ahead of the ‘clapping out ceremony’ as they exited the Church Assembly Hall. Learn about the Opening Ceremony HERE.

Moderator, thank you for the kind words.

Congratulations on your deft handling of this unusual General Assembly.

It was a great pleasure to spend time with you last Sunday discussing the Church’s year ahead.

Catherine and I had a wonderful day in Orkney on Tuesday. We were only sorry that you could not be there too! We’ll have to go back to hear you sing in the Cathedral Choir.

I wish you and Rosie every success in the months to come.

Right Reverend, pray be seated.

It has been an honour to have represented The Queen as Lord High Commissioner.

I was pleased to have met the First Minister at the start of the week and enjoyed our discussion – as I have all my discussions with political representatives and civic and community leaders across Scotland.

Catherine and I came here to listen, so we might learn more about your challenges, but also, to learn of your hopes and aspirations, so that we may serve alongside you with the combination of humility and conviction that speaks so powerfully to us.

As I sat in Canongate Kirk last Sunday listening to Neil Gardner’s sermon, I felt particularly fortunate that my week as Lord High Commissioner coincides with Pentecost.

A week that celebrates the way in which the Holy Spirit kindled within Jesus’s early followers a desire to learn from others – whose tongues they could now understand – and to share far and wide the Christian message of love and service.

I have kept this message at the forefront of my mind all week.

Let me reflect on some of my conversations with Church of Scotland members:

The Grassmarket Community Project and the compassionate staff at Crossreach’s Queen’s Bay Lodge Care Home, brought to life how the Church is not a building, but a community bound together by a common creed and a shared commitment to serve.

While over a cup of tea in the Bichan Family’s garden on Orkney, Alan and Wilma gave us an insight into how the Church is also a gentle, supportive presence in households across the nation.

Indeed, be it the rapid move of services online, or the pastoral visits to neighbours to help with shopping or collecting prescriptions, or the support by parishes of their local foodbanks, the church has shown that – even in a pandemic – although we may be separated, we need not be alone.

So, to members of the Church of Scotland I say: thank you for the work you’ve done, the witness you have offered and the service you have given during this pandemic.

Service has also been at the heart of this Assembly’s deliberations:

• Passing the Saint Andrew Declaration with the Scottish Episcopal Church, affirming your desire to serve the people of Scotland together;

• Making difficult decisions to prioritise mission over maintenance, and reforming the church to meet the changing needs of the times;

• The creation of new training programmes for current elders and members;

• And, in the service of future generations, disinvestment from high-carbon industries, and the aspiration for a just and green future.

In these and other decisions, you have achieved so much.

Yet of equal value is the way in which, in contentious matters, you have disagreed with each other in a humble and loving way, providing a model of respectful dialogue.

On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, I wish you renewed strength in your endeavours. For, as Martin Fair said in his powerful address on the opening day, ‘there is work to be done’.

As Catherine and I travelled around Scotland and met Scots of all faiths and none, we saw how much work is being done.

Allow me to share with you some of the stories we have heard this week:

The football fan who told me, whilst keeping one eye on the Scottish Cup Final, that he was pulled back from the brink of suicide by a trusted friend who was there for him in his time of need.

Betty, the ninety-six year old star of the show at Queen’s Bay Lodge, who is full of beans despite the horrid year she’s had. Betty’s certainly got my number!

Brave Mila, ninety-one years Betty’s junior and a star of Hold Still, who Catherine was thrilled to meet in person today.

Jordan, the inspirational Founder of Heavy Sound in East Lothian, who has used his own difficult experiences to give back to vulnerable young people, through music, sport and art.

The students of St Andrews, who struck us by the innovative ways they had come together to support each other and build relationships through finding common ground across different faiths, cultures and backgrounds. And, by how much younger they looked than us! It was wonderful to be back in St Andrews and walk down memory lane together.

And finally the NHS staff who we met at the drive-in cinema last night at Holyroodhouse. Their dedication, commitment and personal sacrifice is truly extraordinary.

These people make Scotland the vibrant, friendly, innovative and determined place Catherine and I love, and is so important to us.

I am shaped by this place. The abiding affection I feel for it is rooted in my experience of its everyday life – in people, relationships, and its ethic of neighbourliness.

Let me close with a few thank-you’s.

To Tom Murray, the Purse Bearer, who has helped me navigate how to be a Lord High Commissioner during a pandemic.

To Liam Fraser, my Chaplain, whose enthusiasm and guidance have been much appreciated.

To Gwen Hamilton and all the staff and police involved in opening the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It means a lot to them to be back up and running as a working royal palace.

And to the people of Scotland who have afforded us such a warm welcome. See you soon.

Over this past year, local communities across the entirety of the United Kingdom have experienced a time of profound loss, challenge and change.

But they have found support in the values of community life that, perhaps, we may have previously taken for granted.

These values provide us with the strength and ingenuity to adapt and meet the challenges we face, now and ahead.

And that is why I believe we can be confident about the future. A future embracing change, yet holding those values close.

Right Reverend and well beloved, your discussions are now at an end and I shall inform Her Majesty that you have concluded the business for which you assembled.

In The Queen’s name I bid you farewell.

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4 thoughts on “Closing Ceremony of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

  1. I Think Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge Is on the same level as Diana, Princess of Wales, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Grace Kelly, Melinda Gates, Queen Máxima’s, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Crown Princess Mette-Marit,

    Like

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