A PUBLIC procession will take place during this year’s General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to mark 50 years of the ordination of women within the Kirk.
More than 200 people are currently signed up to take part in the event in Edinburgh on Tuesday, May 22, exactly half a century on from the Assembly’s decision in 1968 to permit women to become ministers. The procession will see female ministers, their families, friends, colleagues and other supporters parade up The Mound to the Kirk’s General Assembly Hall.
A special event is then taking place inside the hall from 2pm to mark the anniversary, with short contributions expected from some of the pioneering women ministers within the Church.
Event organiser Dr Lesley Orr recently told Life and Work magazine: “This will be a simple, public and dignified procession to honour the pioneer women – and men who supported their call – who first walked this way, remembering also those who knocked but were not allowed to enter – and to celebrate the manifold gifts and service of women in ordained ministry over 50 years.”
More than a quarter of ordained ministers within the Kirk are now women, while around half of those in training for the post are female.
A notice promoting the event on the Eventbrite website states: “On Wednesday, May 22, 1968, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed a deliverance that women should become eligible for ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament on the same terms and conditions as men.
“This decision, after decades of debate and the faithful endeavours of women who believed they had the right to test their vocation to ministry, brought new opportunities and challenges. It changed the face of the Kirk.”
The procession will come three days after Rev Susan Brown becomes the fourth woman to take on the title of Moderator of the General Assembly.
The Assembly’s principal clerk, Rev Dr George Whyte, said: “We celebrate what has happened and it would be inconceivable in our Church not to have women in leadership.”
This year’s General Assembly runs from Saturday to the following Friday. More than 730 ministers and elders from congregations across Scotland and beyond will come together to take part in debate and worship.
Issues on the agenda range from church finances to nuclear weapons, the decline in the number of ministers, holding a national day of prayer, work with other faiths and what Christians in Scotland can learn from the church in Africa.
On Sunday afternoon, for the seventh year running, the Kirk will hold an event in Princes Street Gardens with acts, performances and stalls celebrating the life and work of the church.
And the night before, Powerpoint Scotland will host the first ever youth event as part of the Heart and Soul weekend. Starting at 6.30pm, it will also feature multi-award winning electronic dance music act, LZ7 in an evening of “high energy worship and music”.