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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Moderator calls for ongoing reform
Dr Alison Elliot
Dr Elliot commended delegates' conviction
The first female Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has called for a continued programme of reform.

Dr Alison Elliot was setting out her vision of change within the Kirk.

She closed this year's General Assembly by speaking of her frustration at the public's perception of the church as being unwilling to embrace change.

Dr Elliot, of Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk in Edinburgh was inducted into the post last Saturday.

She praised this year's delegates for having had the conviction to give the green light to radical proposals for reform within the church.

Change has been a key word in the Assembly
Dr Alison Elliot
Dr Elliot told the Assembly: "The assumption that change is somehow alien to our faith is a terrible criticism, I believe, of the Church.

"We describe ourselves as the body of Christ and a body is a living thing and living things do change continually.

"What is at issue is not whether this body should change but in what direction.

"As a reformed Church in need of reform we can lay claim to a tremendous freedom to be the Church that the world needs for today and not bound by the shackle of orthodoxy."

Dr Elliot praised the commissioners for having approved certain key measures throughout the course of the week, saying they had confounded her expectations.

'Liberating and reforming'

She said: "Change has been a key word in the Assembly.

"A week ago, I suspected this was just going to be a holding Assembly in which many of the proposals for change were going to be delayed, doubtless for very good reasons, until they'd been considered by the Presbyteries or by next year's Assembly.

"But the Assembly did bite the bullet on the proposals by the Assembly Council for setting up the new six councils out of the old boards and committees.

"We are part of a liberating and reforming Church and it is a privilege we must take seriously."

On Monday, delegates approved the proposal to create a new body called the Council of Assembly, which will have the authority to take necessary administrative decisions between General Assemblies.

They further agreed that the Church's numerous committees, panels and boards which exist at present, should be reorganised into just six councils with responsibility for all aspects of Church life.

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