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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 October, 2003, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Kirk to appoint female moderator
Valerie Watson and Alison Elliot
Valerie Watson and Alison Elliot
The Church of Scotland is to appoint its first ever woman moderator of the General Assembly.

The two nominees will be considered by the appointments committee later this month.

There has been increasing pressure in recent years for the Kirk to elect a woman moderator.

Until now those who have been nominated have failed to break through what has been described as the "stained glass ceiling".

The women whose names have been put forward for selection are Dr Alison Elliott and the Reverend Valerie Watson.
They're both excellent candidates with different gifts and strengths and the committee has certainly a difficult decision to make
Finlay Macdonald
Former moderator

Dr Elliott is an elder at Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk in Edinburgh and director of the centre for theology and public issues at Edinburgh University.

Reverend Watson is in charge of a country parish near Jedburgh.

A former moderator, the Very Reverend Finlay Macdonald said he was delighted that, at last, the Kirk would have a woman in the position.

"We've wrestled with this issue for a few years in a lot of ways but clearly this year there is going to be a moderator, in that both nominees are women," he said.

"They're both excellent candidates with different gifts and strengths and the committee has certainly a difficult decision to make between two very excellent women, one an elder, one a minister, both extremely qualified for the job.

"We have a commitment to inclusiveness within the church, women form the majority of the membership of the church and I think it is highly appropriate and I'm delighted it will happen this year."

May appointment

It is 500 years since an elder of the Kirk was chosen as a moderator.

A vote will be taken at a Kirk committee meeting later this month and the nominee chosen will take up the post in Edinburgh in May next year.

The role is honorary and is held for 12 months.

Primary responsibilities for the incumbent include heading the Assembly, leading daily worship, ruling on points of order and signing documents on behalf of the Assembly.

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