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Sectarian bias must be tackled, says new Moderator

The Moderator Designate of the Church of Scotland said yesterday that one of her main priorities was to continue the church’s work on tackling sectarianism.

The Rev Sheilagh Kesting, 53, who will take up her post on Saturday at the start of the 2007 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, is the first female minister to be appointed to the role.

Yesterday, she outlined her hopes to encourage co-operative relationships within the Church. The topic will be debated during the week-long assembly.

Other business for the assembly includes debates about sexuality and whether or not sex offenders should be accepted into the church.

Ms Kesting is expected to have a significant influence over the issue of sexuality after her vocal support of “gay blessing” ceremonies. The assembly aims to “encourage the church to break down the banners that still exist”.

Ms Kesting said of her election: “I hope it sends a good message and is tremendously inspirational to women ministers around the world.”

On the sectarianism issue, she said: “I think Alan [McDonald, the current Moderator] and some of my predecessors have done a wonderful job in addressing Scotland’s sectarian shame and I certainly would want to continue that work with the Cardinal [Keith O’Brien].”

In a creative break with tradition, Ms Kesting said she would be using a painting of a Russian icon from the 14th century as a focus of worship and to encourage deeper reflection.

Full story at The Scotsman.

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