Free Church of Scotland
Watch the General Assembly 2023
This year’s General Assembly took place from Monday 22nd – Thursday 25th May 2023.
Rev. Bob Akroyd, Systematic Theology Lecturer at Edinburgh Theological Seminary, will serve as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 2023-24.
Bob has shared his background of growing up, coming to faith and being involved in the Free Church. Bob, who hails from New Jersey, was adopted by Denny and Ruth and has one sister, Nancy. He studied American History at the University of Virginia. He came to Edinburgh to study Scottish and Irish Nationalism under the supervision of Owen Dudley Edwards. While in Edinburgh, he began to attend Buccleuch Free Church and Holyrood Abbey Church of Scotland where he benefitted from the ministries of Donald Macleod and James Philip. Bob came to faith in 1993. He became a regular volunteer at Bethany House. There he met Heather Johnston. Bob and Heather married in 1999. They enjoyed travel, cooking, and entertaining many friends and visitors in their home. Heather passed away in July 2022.
He graduated from the Free Church College (now Edinburgh Theological Seminary – ETS) in 1999 and became the assistant minister at Buccleuch Free Church serving with his colleague and friend, Alex MacDonald. Bob also served as an honorary chaplain at the University of Edinburgh and became a Prison Chaplain at HMP Edinburgh in 2001. Bob continues to serve at HMP Edinburgh which has a staff team of over 300 and a prisoner population of 900.
Commenting on his nomination Bob said: “I feel honoured and humbled to take on this role. Almost thirty years ago, I came to faith by listening to a cassette tape of Douglas MacMillan preaching from Matthew 2:2. I have a great debt of gratitude to the Free Church of Scotland and to its people. It has been such a pleasure and privilege to be part of the Buccleuch congregation, to serve alongside Alex MacDonald as assistant minister and now to teach at ETS. I am particularly grateful for the practical and prayerful support I have received from so many friends over these last 18 months.”
Lord High Commissioner
The King has approved that The Right Honourable Lord (Patrick) Hodge be appointed as His Majesty’s Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 2023.
The Lord High Commissioner is the Sovereign’s personal representative to the Annual General Assembly. He attends on behalf of the Sovereign and this year will make a speech to the General Assembly on Wednesday 24th May at 12 noon.
The Lord High Commissioner first addressed the General Assembly in 1925. The position has a reduced role within proceedings, largely maintaining a symbolic connection between the secular and sacred through the adherence to the Establishment Principle by the Free Church.
About the General Assembly
The General Assembly is the highest decision-making body in the Free Church of Scotland and meets for a week in Edinburgh every May to discuss church business and set policy.
Normally there are around 80 commissioners, made up of Free Church ministers and elders from different Presbyteries and congregations across Scotland, as well as missionaries from overseas.
The business is chaired by the Moderator, who is appointed for a one-year term.
There will usually be an address from the Lord High Commissioner – His Majesty The King’s representative to the General Assembly – as well as speeches from esteemed guests from other organisations.
Assembly Report & Minute Archive
Each year, the main Boards and Committees present Reports to the General Assembly. These are written to inform the church about the work that has been taking place and the plans that are being made for the future. The Reports also contain a ‘Deliverance’, which is a list of items to be incorporated into our church’s legislation. You can download the Reports from recent General Assemblies below.
Meeting minutes are also recorded during the sessions of the General Assembly. You can download the Minutes from recent General Assemblies below.
Acts of Assembly 1900 - Present
Every year the Free Church of Scotland General Assembly passes a set of acts – decisions made by the Assembly which translate into rules governing points of procedure. You can explore over 100 years of Assembly Acts here, providing both a fascinating insight into the history of the Free Church and a clearer understanding of the ongoing work and functioning of the church today.
Search Acts of Assembly in Force
This section contains a Digest of Assembly legislation which are in force and relevant. Any amendments have been incorporated into the Acts.
- You can use the search box for a general search.
- You can search by subject (e.g. Presbyteries) or by year.
- You can find a list of repealed acts of assembly here.