Word of Life

2017. május 29., hétfő

The Church of Scotland recently held its annual General Assembly and five delegates from the Scottish Mission in Budapest were in attendance for the event. The meeting was held in Edinburgh and lasted from May 20-26, 2017.

“Word of Life,” was the theme for this year’s General Assembly and the Church of Scotland emphasized that it was a topic that, “invites each one of us, whether we are at the heart of faith or on the fringes of faith, to think about what, for us, those words might be: hope, welcome, peace, mercy, kindness, love and so many more.” In this way, for each individual, our word of life may change and evolve throughout our life journeys, but they all help us to understand and focus on Jesus, the true embodiment of, “Word of Life.”

More than 730 commissioners from across Scotland came to Edinburgh for the General Assembly where they were joined by more than 30 youth delegates and over 150 guests from associated partners and other organizations, including international guests.

Attendees of the event were thrilled to learn that the Lord High Commissioner, a person appointed by Her Majesty The Queen as her representative to the GA, was none other than Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. Throughout the week, Her Grace addressed the Assembly many times and reflected on the important role of the church in society. Her wit and charm were appreciated by all

Her Grace invited important guests to attend the GA proceedings with her during the week, many of whom were then given the opportunity to speak to the Assembly. One such guest was His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, a Jordanian prince and professor of philosophy. Price Ghazi told those in attendance that, “In reading; in beneficial knowledge; in wisdom, there may also lie lurking solutions to many other of our looming problems. I trust this is something we can all agree on. The only prayer for ‘more’ in the Qur’an is: ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge.’ (Ta Ha, 20:114).” He spoke movingly of his dismay and anger at the recent bombing in Manchester, and condemned that attack and those like it “in the strongest possible terms.” In his vote of thanks following the speech, the Moderator praised Prince Ghazi as a "peacemaker, reconciler, scholar, man of prayer, and leader of great courage.”

Heart and Soul festival, which takes place during the Sunday afternoon of GA, is a wonderful opportunity for the church and secular society to mingle in the Princes Street Gardens. The downtown green space is filled with tents and stalls representing various church ministries for interested people to wander through. In total, around 5,000 people came to the event to enjoy music, get freebies from some of the organizations, learn more in-depth about various church ministries, socialize, and take part in contemporary worship.

The purpose of the General Assembly is to consider reports from each of the Church’s councils, discuss issues of national and international importance, and make decisions to help set the Church’s course for the coming year. At the beginning of the event, the Rev Dr Derek Browning was appointed as the Kirk’s new moderator and he led the proceedings of the week.

Decisions made at the GA have lasting consequences for the church, so complex issues are discussed with vigor by commissioners in attendance. This year saw many such topics, like a new registration system for those in ministry, a plan for how best to approach the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a proposal to explore the possibility of ministers performing same-sex marriages, the importance of women in ministry, and a new “hub” model for sharing human resources in a ministry capacity. All these topics, and many more, were discussed in a spirited but respectful manner by those at the GA. Despite disagreements, the commissioners always came together in the end once a decision was made – putting the future of the church ahead of their own agendas in a display of remarkable unity.

The input from global ecumenical guests had a huge impact on those in attendance, especially when discussing the topic of women in ministry. Many of the Church of Scotland’s international partners sent female delegates to the event who were not shy to stand up and tell their story of ministry and how their church context shaped their work. It was a critical experience for those from Scotland to hear about churches around the world and how they do (or sometimes do not) support women in ministry. These voices from around the world created a vibrant atmosphere in which to debate important topics such as this.

Throughout the week in Edinburgh, commissioners and church officials took strides towards becoming the church they feel called to be in today’s world – one who accepts all, loves all, and doesn’t shy away from having hard discussions.

Five members of the Scottish Mission were represented at this year’s General Assembly in various capacities, as well as members from the wider Hungarian Reformed Church family. Diana Erdélyi, Ecumenical Secretary at the RCH and member of the Scottish Mission, was the official delegate sent by the RCH. Rev Aaron Stevens, minister, and Éva Boros, Head Elder, officially represented the Scottish Mission. Kearstin Bailey, Global Mission Intern with the RCH and member at the Scottish Mission, represented the CofS National Youth Assembly as a Youth Representative. Kate Guichelaar, member at the Scottish Mission, represented the CofS International Presbytery as a Youth Representative. In addition, Géza and Dóra Kacsó attended the GA as representatives from the Reformed Church in Transcarpathia.

 

Article by Kearstin Bailey

Photos via the Church of Scotland

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We encourage you to read our GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time in Hungary.