General Assembly 2020

The General Assembly 2020

The Moderator Designate is The Rev Dr Martin Fair. Dr Fair has been Minister of St Andrew’s Parish Church in Arbroath since 1992. He has said he hopes to highlight addiction and mental health issues during his year in office. Dr Fair will be the first Moderator from Arbroath to serve as the Kirk’s ambassador at home and abroad during what will be the 700th anniversary year of the Declaration of Arbroath.

Born in Glasgow, Dr Fair has said ‘There is a wonderful opportunity for the Church right now to rediscover its meaning and purpose for the people of Scotland and beyond in the here and now. I am totally fired up as a Minister, and as Moderator, I want to communicate that excitement and positivity’.

The General Assembly is a significant annual event in the Church of Scotland calendar. Throughout the week, commissioners to the General Assembly examine its work and laws and make decisions that affect the future of the Church.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 General Assembly was regrettably cancelled.  A special service is being held to formally install the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Rev Dr Martin Fair will officially succeed Rt Rev Colin Sinclair as the Kirk’s ambassador at home and abroad on May 16 with proceedings broadcast live on the Church’s website and Facebook page from 11am.

The service at the General Assembly Hall in Edinburgh is being held on the day that the annual seven day gathering should have opened but was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

It will include hymns, prayers, readings, a Benediction and follow strict social distancing guidelines to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19.

The outgoing Moderator, Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, will open the service and will reflect on his year and offer some words of advice to the new Moderator.

The Moderator’s cross and ring will be placed in a box on a table and Dr Fair will be invited to put them on.

He will then address the Church and nation as he looks forward to the year ahead.

The only other participant in the hall will be the Principal Clerk, Rev Dr George Whyte, who as well as ensuring correct process is followed, will read a passage from the Bible as he would have done at the opening of the General Assembly.

Dr Fair’s wife Elaine and Mr Sinclair’s wife Ruth will be in attendance along with a skeleton media crew to manage the live broadcast which will have British Sign Language translation.

The Moderator Designate’s chaplains, Rev Gregor McIntyre, minister at Faifley Parish Church in Clydebank and Rev Catherine Beattie of Giffnock South Parish Church, will lead a prayer via video conferencing.

Rev Andrew Anderson and Rev Tim Sinclair, who served as chaplains to the current Moderator, will also be taking part online.

Rev Dr Martin Fair, the minister of St Andrews Parish Church in Arbroath, is the Moderator-Designate for 2020-21


Mr Fair will adopt the title "Rt Rev Dr" and continue in his role as minister of St Andrew’s Parish Church in Arbroath for now and carry out Moderatorial duties when appropriate.

Mr Sinclair, who will be known as Very Rev Colin Sinclair after he stands down, will soon return to his role as the minister of Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh.

The installation of the new Moderator will be held at 11am on Saturday 16 May in the Assembly Hall and will be livestreamed on the Church of Scotland website. The installation will conform to the Scottish Government’s social distancing and infection control guidelines and only essential personnel will be in the hall, keeping a safe distance from one another at all times.

An online Heart and Soul celebration— produced by the Heart and Soul project team in compliance with the guidelines— will also be available on the Church of Scotland website on Sunday 17 May.

If the health crisis passes and government guidelines permit, the 2021 General Assembly will be held in the General Assembly Hall on the Mound in Edinburgh. It will open on Saturday 22 May and will close on Friday 28 May. The public gallery will be open for anyone who wishes to watch the Assembly.