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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 October, 2003, 16:20 GMT
First woman moderator named
Alison Elliot
Alison Elliot: New moderator
The first woman moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has been named as Dr Alison Elliot, from Edinburgh.

Dr Elliot, 54, of Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk, is the first elder of the Kirk to be nominated as moderator since the 16th century.

She will take up the post next May and hold office for a year.

Dr Elliot, director of Edinburgh University's centre for theology and public issues, was chosen by a 53-strong committee ahead of Reverend Valerie Watson, a minister with parishes near Kelso.

Each presbytery in Scotland is represented on the committee.

The role of moderator, currently held by Reverend Professor Iain Torrance, 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.

'Interesting conversation'

Dr Elliot said: "I'm very touched that the church has thought fit to entrust this job to me for the year. I'm looking forward to it tremendously.

"I think the question of history is certainly in the air."

Asked what John Knox would have made of her appointment, she said: "John Knox was a reformer. He was interested in new ideas.

This is an historic day for the Church and for Scotland and reflects the changing face of Scottish society
Jack McConnell
First minister
"It's a difficult thing to imagine but I think it would be an interesting conversation to have."

The appointment of Dr Elliot was welcomed by First Minister Jack McConnell.

He said: "This is an historic day for the Church and for Scotland and reflects the changing face of Scottish society.

"I am sure Dr Alison Elliot will represent Scotland as well as the church and I look forward to working with her in the future."

BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh
"The moderator's role is effectively to referee"

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