Moderator’s Address at the 2022 General Assembly

Rev Iver Martin, Principal at Edinburgh Theological Seminary, will serve as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 2022-23.

This morning he has delivered his Moderator’s Address to commissioners and guests.

He spoke on the theme of Moving Intelligently Forward by Looking Backward.

“The last two years have been among the most challenging in my lifetime,” he said. “Never before in living memory have we experienced such disruption to everyday life, and have our freedoms been curtailed so much. Such restrictions extended to every sector of society, not least into the church, forcing closures, and severely limiting and indeed eliminating many of the practices which are precious to us.

“Today, we are profoundly thankful for two things. First, that, in one sense, business continued as usual over these two years. Technology allowed for Zoom calls, working from home, and the ability to maintain a measure of gospel provision, indeed forcing us to extend our borders as never before. By my count, there were three or four congregations that had livestream provision before COVID. Today, most of the congregations within our denomination continue to use facilities which allow the message of Jesus Christ to extend well beyond our walls. Secondly, we are thankful for the progression beyond Covid that has resulted in today’s measure of normality.”

“As we meet for the first time in an in person General Assembly it rather feels like a new beginning, in a way its business as usual, the resumption of the journey, but there is also a deep sense of the unknown. So it’s no wonder that the Church right now perhaps feels vulnerable, fragile and somewhat uncertain as to how to proceed into an unknown future.”

He spoke about what defines the Free Church of Scotland, asking the questions who and what are we, what makes us what we are, and how do these give direction towards the future.

Commissioners were informed that the Free Church is a denomination with a defined history, it is united doctrinally by solemn and specific vows to a particular document and it is a Presbyterian Church.

He concluded, saying: “Having then set out three historic, doctrinal and presbyterial landmarks which give direction to the future, I hope we care deeply about the Free Church, not for what it stood for and did in the past, or as a bygone happy place where some of us can hide in our nostalgia, but as a present dynamic force which, under the power of the Holy Spirit in the gospel, can truly bring about the Christian good of Scotland.”

The assembly runs until Thursday. The livestream is available to view here.