Church of Scotland

Church of Scotland

There are two styles of address for members of the Clergy: formal and social. In most circumstances the social form of address is used - that is a polite but slightly less deferential style of approach than the very rigid form that was followed in the last century.

This is the Established Church in Scotland, and is Presbyterian by constitution. The Supreme Court of the Church is the General Assembly which meets annually in May and is presided over by a Moderator, who is appointed each year by the Assembly.

The General Assembly comprises of around 850 commissioners - ministers, elders and members of the diaconate (deacons). The annual assembly congregates for a week, usually in the Assembly Hall on the Mound in central Edinburgh. The General Assembly has the authority to make laws determining how the Church of Scotland operates.

It is also the highest court of the Church, the other courts being the Kirk Session and the Presbytery, where cases can be heard in matters of litigation.

The Sovereign either attends the Assembly in person, or is represented by the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly who is appointed by the Crown.

The Lord High Commissioner takes up residence for the week of the Assembly in the Palace of Holyroodhouse. By custom, he or she addresses the Assembly at its opening and closing sessions, and attends much of the daily business, but is strictly not able to influence debates. There is also an important social aspect to the Lord High Commissioner's role, and he or she will host several dinner parties, and a garden party, at Holyroodhouse during the week's deliberations.

Recent Lord High Commissioners have included HRH The Princess Royal 1996, Lord Mackay of Clashfern in 2005 and 2006, and HRH The Duke of York in 2007. The Rt Hon George Reid was Lord High Commissioner to the 2008 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

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