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Lynne McNeil meets the Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator-Designate to the 2017 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

A GLEAMING double oven has pride of place within the kitchen of the Victorian manse of Morningside Parish Church in Edinburgh.

Shelves weighed down by recipe books provide the telltale signs of a ministerial passion for cookery and it will be no surprise to learn that hospitality will be the theme of the Rev Dr Derek Browning’s year as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Photos: Derek Fett

“The overall theme of this year’s General Assembly is ‘Word of Life’ and, thinking about different significant words in the life of the church, for me, one of them is and has been hospitality and also welcome and how we do that. It is also about inclusion. Inclusion has been a significant part of my ministry,” he explains.

Derek, the minister at Morningside since 2001, is both erudite and charming and with a quick wit – tempered by compassion and a passion for ministry and people. With a love for reading, theatre and the arts (he used to play the bagpipes), he is also no stranger to regular visitors to the General Assembly. He has served as Vice-Convener of the Assembly Arrangements Committee (which sits as the Business Committee during the General Assembly in May) and most recently as Convener of that Committee. His engagement with the central church has also included involvement with the Education for the Ministry Committee, the Board of Stewardship and Finance, the Panel on Worship, the Tenure Commission and most recently as a long-standing member of the Assembly Arrangements Committee.

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About Life and Work

The month of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will be almost upon us as this issue reaches our readers. Reports will be debated and pronouncements made on a wide range of issues. One thing will be evident: the wind of change will begin to blow over the shape of the Church. After a series of roadshows over the length and breadth of the land from London to Lerwick the feedback on the future of the Church is being carefully analysed and considered.