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Tuesday always used to be Church and Nation Day, and it is still the day for the Church and Society Council’s report, the last to be given by Rev Sally Foster-Fulton as she completes her term of office as Convener and focuses on her new job heading up Christian Aid Scotland.  But, in the background, has been some business left over from Saturday’s Council of Assembly report, and talk away from the Assembly Hall has included the question of two new major church appointments.

Earlier this year a nomination was made for the position of Secretary to the Council of Assembly, to take up the post following the retirement of Pauline Weibye, who has done an excellent job as the first holder of this post.  That meant that the individual's post as Secretary of the Ministries Council would fall vacant, and a recent announcement was made that a particular individual would be appointed to this role.  This individual is in a close personal relationship with the new Secretary to the Council of Assembly and questions have arisen about line management and conflict of interest issues. There has been a lot of discussion among the various Conveners and other Commissioners since this became apparent.  In order that every aspect of this process is done, and seen to be done, in a proper manner, there will now be a debate on Wednesday morning, with a new commission being proposed to see how this can be sorted out.

Returning to Church and Society, the Assembly spent a substantial time debating the corporal punishment of children, and, after stories about jeely jars and smacking and lengthy debate on the rights and wrongs, the Council’s motion seeking to recognise that corporal punishment of children is violent and damaging to mental and physical health was narrowly approved.

On Climate Change, an attempt by the Rev Dr John Cameron to discard the broad scientific consensus on man-made effects on climate change was roundly thrown out, but there were a number of difficult discussions, trying to work out the details of disinvestment from fossil fuel companies and how best to influence these companies.  A motion on fuel poverty led to a plea for more urgent upgrading of poorly insulated and heated manses.

After lunch a group of school children and their teacher and head teacher were welcomed and presented with the Stevenson Prize for Religious Observance – this is a significant continuing encouragement of partnerships between Chaplains and schools.

The session concluded with the report from the Guild, which was encouraging but uncontroversial, and the report of the Iona Community Board, looking for funding for major work at Iona Abbey.  Afterwards, a public meeting was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women to the Eldership – noting that 54% of Elders are women, and the recent Church Census showed that 54% of those attending churches are women – a neat match.