The May edition of the Church of Scotland’s magazine marks the 40th anniversary of the decision to ordain women to the Church of Scotland’s ministry on the same terms as men. Forty years on around one in five Kirk ministers are women with the number of women ministers increasing while the overall numbers of ministers drops. In recent years between a third and a half of the candidates entering training for the full-time ministry are women.
Current Moderator the Rt Rev Sheilagh Kesting, the first woman minister to fill the role, says “I never imagined it would take quite so long (for a woman Moderator) and I feel sorry that women ministers who were nominated previously were not elected.” (The first female Moderator was Kirk elder Dr Alison Elliot in 2004).
Kesting adds; “I think it is good that we have now had a female minister and an elder as Moderator and I hope this means that in the near future we will not need to think about gender or status, but only the distinctive gifts that people bring to the role by being the people they are.”
Ready to serve
David Lunan plans to be a “no frills” Moderator. He is a pastor with 40 years experience engaging with people beginning at the sharp end in the East End of Glasgow, returning years later to the city centre as a parish minister. More recently he has been at the hub of the Kirk’s largest Presbytery with over 150 parishes within its bounds.
When he steps into the Moderatorial chair later this month and receives the large amethyst ring, a symbol of office, from the Rt Rev Sheilagh Kesting, there will be no lace frills around his cuffs or his collar, but there will be an air of quiet dignity and a desire to serve.
Along with his wife Maggie, his partner in ministry, the Moderator-designate will be preparing for this year’s General Assembly and a year in office, by going on a spiritual retreat to Perthshire. The Lunans hope to share the benefits of such retreats when they tour Presbyteries as part of a year of official engagements.
A different day
Former Moderator the Very Rev Dr James Simpson, also known for his popular books on wit and wisdom, suggests that bringing back Sunday as a ‘different’ day could help individuals and families to “recharge our batteries”. Dr Simpson cites a recent report which highlighted the negative impact on the social life of families spending so little time together. “Individuals and communities lose much when the Sunday becomes indistinguishable from other days. We need to put boundaries round the acquisitive, anxious striving in which so many of us are immersed every other day.”
• Full story at the Church of Scotland.