Tag Archives: Moderator

The outgoing Moderator of the GA of the C of S – on meeting the Pope

Whatever the visit of the Moderator meant to Pope Francis, this private audience meant a great deal to me. What I discerned on that occasion is that the power of the Pope’s leadership is not in dictates, papal decrees and ex cathedra statements. The power of his leadership is in the strength of his spiritual life and inner integrity. You look into this man’s eyes and you know that there is someone in and that the light is switched on. It is Christ who is in and the light is the grace and goodness and justice and righteousness of God. That is why he is disturbing the waters, that is why he is a reformer and that is why his leadership is so powerful.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Moderator’s Christmas Message

Moderator’s Christmas message

21 December 2014
The Rt Rev John Chalmers
I have a confession to make. Years ago I thought it was role of a Presbyterian minister to be critical of all the excess materialism which pervaded Christmas. So one Christmas Eve in front of packed congregation I had a go at those people who, in my opinion, didn’t pay attention to the real meaning of Christmas and I put the tin lid on it by criticising those who only came to church once a year. That, of course, was half of the congregation and it was the same half that didn’t wish me a happy Christmas at the door of the Church.

I have repented of such foolishness. Now I believe that those who pack our churches on Christmas Eve do so because the power of Christmas still draws them in to hear the story of God, in the life of a tiny baby, breaking through the darkness to bring light into the world. If you’re looking for the real X Factor this Xmas you shouldn’t have to go any further than your local church.

One hundred years ago on the Western Front it was the power of Christmas that punched a hole in the battle between two warring sides. Men climbed out of their trenches, shared their tobacco and chocolate cake and kicked a football on a muddy field. We may have something of a romantic notion of what happened on Christmas Eve 1914 and there were mixed motives for soldiers and officers lowering their guns and extending the hand of goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer, but what else than the heart of Christmas could have made even that temporary pause in hostilities happen. Love came down at Christmas and I will continue to pray for a day in the future when goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer will breakout across many other hostile fronts.

Come to Church this Christmas. There will be a Watchnight Service near you and Christmas morning service somewhere in the neighbourhood. If it’s got anything to do with me there will be a warm welcome awaiting you and there will be an opportunity for you to put Christ back into Xmas.

Rt Rev John Chalmers
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

The Moderator’s Button

Ian Hamilton – Scottish Review

Whichever way the vote goes these are bright days for our country. Our dispute is about how it’s governed, not about its very existence. Many years ago it was not so.
Once I was at a formal dinner sitting next to the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He was in full dress including cuffs adorned with buttons. Each button bore the legend
E 11 R. I asked him why he wore buttons that were an affront to our history since, as he well knew, Elizabeth Windsor was the first of that name to reign over us. He told me somewhat stiffly that, ‘You have to wear these buttons to be a chaplain to her majesty’.
I said this was nonsense. That he didn’t have to wear them; that the queen could do without his chaplaincy; that his forefathers and mine had died to see she had no right to tell the Kirk what to do; that in Scotland the queen was not head of the Kirk but God’s silly vassal, and that he should be ashamed of himself. He then gave me the cold shoulder.
Some years later there was a sequel. I’m not a member of the Kirk so it came as a surprise when Jeannette and I were invited to lunch during a General Assembly by a new moderator. He took me aside and showed me he was wearing not E 11 R buttons but silver ones. He explained that my complaint had reached him. As a result he had consulted the Lord Lyon and together they had designed a silver button to be used by the moderator in all time coming. ‘The moderator’s button’.
Remembering the lad with the silver button from Stevenson’s ‘Kidnapped’ I said, ‘If you were Alan Breck Stewart you would take out your dirk and cut one of these off and give it to me’. He smiled and said, ‘There’s no need, Ian. The Lord Lyon and I had one specially cast for you’. He then put his hand in his pocket and gave me the moderator’s silver button.
It hangs on my living-room wall above the Great Seal of Scotland, cut from my Queen’s Counsel commission.
Ian Hamilton QC was one of the organisers of the National Covenant movement

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Are you a Meenister?

Some years ago, a congregation’s minister retired and moved from the area.

The good folks of this kirk had to rely on various clergymen to take their Sunday Services.

One Saturday evening, a small deputation arrived at the railway station to welcome their guest preacher whom they’d never met before.

The train duly arrived and the passengers got off, walking along the platform to the exit barrier.

The folks from the church looked and better looked for a man with a clerical grey suit and dog-collar but in vain.

By this time, virtually everybody had disembarked….. ah, but then a gaunt looking man, wearing a tie but a dark suit walking somewhat slowly along the platform from the train. And he had one of those slightly pained and serious looks on his face.

He reached the barrier, and the Session Clerk approached him.

“Are you a minister?”

“No” came the reply, “I’m suffering from haemorrhoids, and that f’ing long train journey hasn’t helped”


Another train story:

Sitting opposite two guys in a railway compartment was a very studious looking gentleman.

One of the guys whispered to the other “I’m sure that’s the Moderator of the Kirk”

“Certainly looks like him – go on, ask him”

“Excuse me, are you the Moderator?”

The reply: “F off!!!”

So one of the two guys says to his pal “I guess we’ll never know now”

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic