The opening sermon by the retiring Moderator Rev. Robert McCurley was taken from Matthew 16:24,25. Mr McCurley reminded the people of God that whatever they may suffer or lose in this life, they shall ultimately gain far more than what they can ever lose.
Thereafter Rev. David Blunt was elected as Moderator of the General Assembly. A reception took place with the new Moderator calling on three speakers, Rev. Murdo A. Macleod, Rev. Raymond Kemp and Rev. James Gracie, who all spoke warmly of their friendship with Mr Blunt. The evening closed with Worship taken by Mr Blunt.
The new Moderator’s address was based upon the Epistle of Jude verse 3, focusing particularly on earnestly contending for the faith in the face of much formalism and apostasy.
Loyal & Dutiful Address
In the Loyal & Dutiful Address mention was made of Her Majesty The Queen and her promise to uphold the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.
Ecumenical Relations Committee
It was agreed to suspend our relations with ‘The Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (Liberated)’ as they appear to be moving towards having women officebearers.
Finance and Sustentation Committee
The Convener emphasised that there was an opportunity for the whole Church to share in property costs and encouraged all our Congregations to have a monthly Central Building Fund collection.
Especial thanks were given to Rev. & Mrs Bill Scott for ‘The Worthy to be Praised’ CD project and for the work of taking psalmody classes throughout the congregations of the denomination.
Welfare of Youth & Education Committee
The Convener Rev. Richard Ross introduced two Sabbath School prize-winners to the Moderator, Susannah Macdonald and Sarah Craig. Susannah Macdonald was presented with the Bible Class prize, while Sarah Craig was presented with the Sabbath School prize.
Training of the Ministry & Admissions Committee
The General Assembly was exhorted to continue to pray that the Lord would call men to the Ministry. It was also mentioned that it was the intention of Rev. John Keddie to step down as Principal of the Seminary and Lecturer in Church History, at the end of the 2018-19 session.
Home and Foreign Missions Committee
It was mentioned that attempts had been made to resolve certain issues with Covenant College in Zambia. However, discussions having failed, it was agreed to relinquish our relations with the Zambia Mission. It was, however, agreed to continue to support the work of Marjanne Hendriksen in Zambia. A number of delegates addressed the Assembly regarding the work in Spanish-speaking lands and also in China.
Committee on Public Questions, Religion and Morals
It was reported that the Scottish Parliament were still in favour of introducing legislation which would criminalise parents for disciplining their children with a smack. Mention was also made of the ‘Ashers Bakery Case’ which is very much ongoing and the Assembly was exhorted to remember that family business in prayer. It was also noted that progress has been made regarding a paper on the political links between the United Kingdom and the Vatican.
Committee on Publications
It was reported that there had been a smooth hand-over of the Editorship of the Witness magazine from Rev. William Macleod who had stepped down after many years, with Rev. David Blunt taking over. Along with Mr Blunt, there are three assistant editors, Rev. James Clark, Rev. Trevor Kirkland and Rev. Alasdair Macleod. It was also noted that there has been a decrease in subscriptions for the Witness magazine over the past number of years and it would be beneficial if more copies of the magazine were available through retail outlets. A presentation was made to Mr & Mrs Glenn Fraser by the Moderator to mark their retirement from their work as Books Organiser for the denomination.
Legal Advice and Property Committee
Mention was made that Marriage Authorisation Certificates for Ministers were expected in the not too distant future. It was also reported that Deacons’ Courts had been informed of their Statutory Obligations regarding Health and Safety regulations within their respective Congregations.
Those from other denominations and organisations invited to speak at the Assembly were: Mr D. Paul Rowland, from the Trinitarian Bible Society; Mr Allan MacCulloch, from the Scottish Reformation Society; Mr Callum Webster, from the Christian Institute; Rev. Dr John P. Wilson, Presbyterian Church of Australia; Rev. Joshua Rieger, Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England & Wales; Rev. Kenneth Stewart, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland; Rev. John Hawthorne, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland; Rev. Dr Sid Garland, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ireland; Rev. Robin Tso, Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia; Rev. David Whitla, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.
In closing, intimation was made of the date of the next General Assembly, which is 20th May 2019 (D.V.).
All in all it was a good General Assembly with interesting debate and positive outcomes, characterised by the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.