The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland today marked the 450th anniversary of the Reformation and urged the Kirk to continue reforming.
At a special session of the General Assembly in Edinburgh, the Right Reverend John Christie said that we lived in a different world from the time of Protestant reformer John Knox. Our time was one where where secular voices challenge the Church.
Mr Christie said: “These siren voices are often critical, sometimes dismissive and seldom affirming. Perhaps they are right to be so. I wonder if we need to face the criticism directed at us and rethink what we are about.
“I think we need a reformation of the relationship within the Body of Christ, something new and better in obedience to the divine plan often acknowledged, more often ignored because of the blinkered eye of tradition or the earplugs of sectarianism. The world of 2010 does not need or want a divided church; divided within itself it cannot stand. It is time for the 21st century Chuch to affirm that which unites us.
“What we need to do is to take the Reformation up as a lively, vital, dynamic moment in our history and look forward to when our young people are celebrating the 500th anniversary, hoping that the world is a better place. If you think that is dreaming an impossible dream then let me say this, the Scottish Reformation began with John Knox in Perth and it circled the globe.”
Also speaking at the special session was Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP who read out the account of the Scottish Parliament of August 1560 which approved the Scots Confession.
Extracts from the records of the very first General Assembly in Edinburgh on 20 December 1560 were read by the Kirk’s Principal Clerk, the Very Rev Dr Finlay Macdonald.
Professor of Reformation History at the University of Edinburgh Jane Dawson spoke about the origins of the Reformation and how it came to be established in Scotland.
Actor John Shedden, dressed as John Knox, read extracts from Knox’s account of the martyrdom of George Wishart and the Scots Confession itself.
Rev Ewan Aitken outlined the impact the Reformation had on education in Scotland – a legacy that continues to this very day in Scottish schools.
Music and songs were provided by pupils from Hyndland Secondary School in Glasgow – where Rt Rev Christie had previously been Chaplain.
Rt Rev Joseph Toal, Roman Catholic Bishop of Argyll and the Isles read a Scripture Reading from the Gospel of John – reputably John Knox’s favourite piece of Scripture.
The Moderator concluded: “If this special session to mark the Reformation is to have any lasting validity then what we have marked today must be measured in how we take its inspiration and apply it to the future.”
For further information, please contact Stuart Wilson, Head of Media and Communications of the Church of Scotland on 07527 541 701.
Stuart R Wilson
Head of Media and Communications
The Church of Scotland
121 George Street,
Tel: 0131 240 2243
Mb: 07527 541 701
Charity No: SC011353