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Monday began with Communion, with both liturgy and sermon clearly aimed at promoting “inclusiveness”. That aim, paradoxically, may have resulted in some in the Assembly feeling uncomfortable.

Following the Business Committee report, the World Mission Council gave its report, leaning heavily on the central theme of women in Ministry. This led one Commissioner to speak stridently about Ministers with all male Kirk Sessions, or who, with spurious excuses, deny their pulpit to women. He was gently reminded that this was Ministries Council business not World Mission, but we were left with the impression that he – and others – would be happy to see the departure of those ministers. Despite the theme of Communion, it is clear that inclusion and a broad Church only go so far.

Interest in the lack of visas for two Delegates was again highlighted, and the Very Rev Angus Morrison persuaded the Assembly to issue a Call to Prayer for the Coptic Church, after welcoming the visit of their Pope.

In the late morning and into the afternoon we took up consideration of a Joint Report on the Balfour Declaration Centenary, following last year’s instruction to consider how best to mark the centenary of the promise by HM Government to support a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This took a great deal of time as Commissioners wanted to give lengthy contributions in support of the various deliverances. Throughout the debate the Convener sought to follow a balanced position, condemning injustice on both sides.

An attempt from the floor to call for boycott or divestment was defeated due to the hazards for our work in Israel if we made such a call – but we did agree a Strategic Review of the Church’s presence in the Holy Land. The Kairos Palestine document was commended for study but moves to endorse it were resisted.

The Social Care Council was next to report after a brief interlude. Financial pressures continue to be a concern, and there was some debate about the changes being made regarding the genuine occupational requirement for all staff to have a Christian faith, with reassurances being sought and clarity about the way this is being applied being given.

The Panel on Review & Reform gave its report with some highlights from the Path of Renewal Programme. The Convener reminded us that even if we could recruit an extra 200 ministers to plug the current shortage, we would not be able to pay for them as the Council of Assembly had already indicated that total congregational giving was declining. He emphasised that this was not, solely, a financial matter and supported the Call to Prayer from Saturday’s Council of Assembly report.

The deliverance itself focussed on a number of different initiatives and ideas being pursued as the Panel sought to find ways to bring essential change to the Church of Scotland. The Principal Clerk moved that the work to be undertaken on Sacramental Ministries, given its importance and complexity, should be taken up by a new Joint Group and there was significant debate on this as the Assembly wrestled with who should be on this group.

The Assembly then returned to a section of the Council of Assembly’s report on the future of the central administration buildings of the Church of Scotland. By this time, Commissioners were weary and following a few questions the Moderator wrapped things up without time for comments.