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Assembly began with a complaint from a Commissioner about the poor attendance at the previous evening’s Youth presentations.  However, with a full seven days’ schedule and a very long day, evening events will always struggle to gain support from tiring members of Assembly.  There is a need to find more space, helped this year with the ‘circulation breaks’ mid-session.

The Ministries Council took up the morning and a good chunk of the afternoon.  The Convener gave a challenging and encouraging opening address, which was followed by fielding a forest of questions on subjects like Hub Ministries, tenure, the core of the work of Ministry and competency assessment.  Louis Kinsey tried to alter the first main section of the deliverance to focus on the priority of the Ministry of Word and Sacrament, but his counter-motion was defeated.

Just before lunch, Alistair May brought a multi-section deliverance highlighting the funeral service we offer without charges for the Minister and this was accepted.

Lunch was followed by the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Act permitting the ordination of women to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.  A parade of ordained women processed up the Mound to the Assembly Hall and they were seated prominently, with addresses given by some of the first ordained women, Rev Margaret Forrester and Rev Jean Montgomery.

The Ministries Council report took some time to work through but there were no major challenges to the Council’s proposals, other than some serious questioning of the advisory nature of the new Presbytery planning figures.  It felt like there were no clear answers as to how the forthcoming shortage of Ministers would be addressed.

Late in the afternoon, the Ecumenical Relations Committee reported.  A question was asked about the diligence of the Committee in seeking to fulfil last year’s instruction about sharing the Theology of Same-Sex Marriage report with other churches and asking for responses.  It was clear that the committee had passed on some significant responses to the Theological Forum.

A number of contributors from other denominations took up a good chunk of time, and a certain weariness could be detected in the Hall, even before the Panel on Review and Reform reported.  Much of the Panel’s work has been on Path of Renewal, which shows some promise for local congregations although this is still early stages for this movement.

The Safeguarding Committee brought a consolidating Act to the Assembly which brings together legislation and Assembly decisions from previous years, and this was easily accepted before the afternoon concluded with the reports of the Iona Community Board and the Guild.