The Lord High Commissioner’s address helped bring a close to the 2016 Free Church of Scotland General Assembly.
Because Baron Hope of Craighead was Her Majesty The Queen’s representative to the General Assembly for a second year in a row, he was able to thank commissioners personally for the four books he was presented with last year.
The Lord High Commissioner said that he was able to learn more about “what our Christian faith has to offer than could be done in a brief visit such as this”.
He also commented that he was relieved that the printed book is here to stay, and the Bible is the prime example of that.
The Lord High Commissioner went onto tell commissioners: “Customs and traditions, and the continuity that they bring, matter too.
“The churches have a vital role to play in this.
“Returning week after week to the familiar and comforting pattern of a church service, and the sharing together of the familiar words of a prayer or a passage from the Bible, are all part of that process.
“So too is the holding of a General Assembly, as you do, according to the time-honoured way in which such things are done.
“Things may change around us, but the stability on which we all depend for the preservation of our society is preserved by careful attention to such things.”
Moderator of the General Assembly Rev Dr John Nicholls thanked Baron Hope for his address, presenting him with three books.
The Assembly recorded with sadness the death of 11 elders over the past year, praying for their families: Donald Macleod of St Peter’s, Rev John Silcox of Dunblane, James MacNair of Dunoon and Strachur, Kenneth Robertson of Tain and Fearn, Donald Macrae of Poolewe and Aultbea, Roddie Mackenzie of Gairloch, Kinlochewe and Torridon, Alexander Theodore Francis Urquart (‘Dorrie’) of Lochbroom and Coigach, Gordon Macleod of North Uist, Alex Morrison of Cross, Alexander Campbell of Stornoway, Malcolm Macleod of Stornoway and Murdo Maciver of Callanish.
The Commission of Assembly has been appointed to meet in Edinburgh at Wednesday 5 October 2016.
Thanks were given by Leith Free Church elder John Scoales, who paid tribute to the Moderator, the Clerks, the precentors, Assembly Officer David MacDonald, the office staff, as well as the hospitality and technical team at Buccleuch Free Church where the Assembly has been meeting.
It was announced that next year's General Assembly will start on Monday 22 May 2017.
Dr Nicholls said the Free Church was living in "exciting days ecclesiastically", highlighting the hope and encouragement seen in Edinburgh Theological Seminary, adding that congregations were to "rejoice with trembling" and pray, before he closed this year's gathering in prayer.