THE Church of Scotland’s General Assembly has opened with an appeal from the Queen for all people of faith and goodwill to work together in the wake of the independence referendum, whatever the result.
In the formal letter of greeting always read at the start of the Assembly, she spoke of the role the Kirk could play in “holding the people of Scotland together” and healing divisions.
Prince Edward, who is Lord High Commissioner - the Queen’s representative to the Assembly, arrived at the Assembly Hall on The Mound amid the customary pomp and ceremony.
And outgoing Moderator the Rt Rev Lorna Hood handed over to her successor, the Rev John Chalmers, former minister of Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh.
The Queen’s letter said: “Throughout the history of Scotland, the Church of Scotland has played a key part in shaping the governance of Scotland and Scottish society.
“So in this important year of referendum we pray that whatever the outcome, people of faith and people of goodwill will work together for the social good of Scotland.”
Her comments were welcomed by First Minister Alex Salmond, who attended the opening session.
In a statement afterwards he said: “Her Majesty is right to highlight the importance of everyone working together for the social good of Scotland, regardless of the outcome of the referendum, which is something I heartily endorse and should be welcomed across the political spectrum.”