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General Assembly of the Church of Scotland - 1783
General Assembly of
the Church of Scotland 1783
guide to the General Assembly
The General Assembly is
the supreme court of the Church of Scotland. Comprising around 850
commissioners - ministers, elders and members of the Diaconate - the
Assembly meets for a week in late Spring every year, usually in the
Assembly Hall on the Mound in central Edinburgh.
General Assembly has the authority to make laws determining how the
Church of Scotland operates. It also is the highest court of the
Church (the other courts being the kirk session and the presbytery)
in which cases can be heard in matters of litigation.
of the Assembly is its administrative role, through which its boards and committees
carry out activities which are run at national level. The boards and committees
present their reports annually, collected together in a blue-covered book known
as The Blue
Book . With each report is a series of resolutions (known as
deliverances) for commissioners to accept, reject, add to or amend.
Chairing the daily business of the
Assembly is the Moderator of the General Assembly. (See separate page for more
information about the Moderator.) At times when the Moderator has to be absent
from the debating chamber, a former Moderator will take the chair.
Commissioners are sent from the
Church's parishes and presbyteries, and, because different commissioners are
usually sent each year, one Assembly can assume a different character from another.
Debates on matters contained in reports presented by the Assembly's various
boards and committee can be lengthy and complex, sometimes resulting in many
votes having to be taken in respect of a particular motion or amendment.
The Lord High
Commissioner, or Queen's Commissioner, is appointed by the Queen as
her representative at the General Assembly, taking up residence for
the week in the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the eastern end of the
Royal Mile. 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 the debates.
round of official visits in Scotland and several evening engagements
at Holyroodhouse form part of the itinerary, and a garden party for
Assembly commissioners and guests is one of the highlights of the
Assembly's opening Saturday.
During the period of the Assembly,
the Lord High Commissioner ranks next to the sovereign, the Duke of Edinburgh
and the Duke of Rothesay, and before the rest of the Royal family.
Also attending the Assembly are
delegates invited from other Christian denominations in Great Britain, Ireland
and overseas, together with guests of the Lord High Commissioner. Civic dignitaries
and politicians can been seen, too, in the throne gallery where these guests
Other Online Resources:
(a brief history)
(A family tree Scottish Presbyterian Churches post-1700)
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