Former deputy first minister named next Kirk moderator

By Douglas Barrie, PA Scotland
·2-min read

A former deputy first minister has been named the next moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Lord Wallace – an elder and member of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney – will succeed the Right Rev Dr Martin Fair in the role next May.

The 66-year-old life peer will take up the 12-month position representing the Kirk at home and abroad.

He said: “I am delighted to have been asked to take up the role and feel humbled and honoured that people have put their trust in me.

“I am both excited and daunted about the challenge of the task that lies ahead and to be honest I have had to pinch myself that this is actually happening.

“Many people have a spiritual longing and the Church has to be nimble, innovative and imaginative as to how it meets that need.”

He added: “But it’s not only through forms of worship that we’ve witnessed positive reactions.

“During the last six months people redoubled their efforts to step up to the plate, going out of their way to help one another and vulnerable members of our communities.

“That spirit of service to one’s neighbour is something I would like to help the Church build on.”

Jim Wallace and Jack McConnell
Lord Wallace and Lord McConnell, or Jim and Jack as they were then known, in the Scottish Parliament while deputy first minister and first minister respectively (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Jim Wallace was leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats between 1992 and 2005, serving as deputy first minister from 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was formed.

He was acting first minister after the death of Donald Dewar in 2000 and again when Henry McLeish resigned in 2001.

The moderator-designate took up his seat in the House of Lords in 2007 but will move to the non-affiliated benches during his time in the role.

As well as removing himself from any parliamentary groups and the Liberal Democrat whip, Lord Wallace will not take part in campaigning for the Scottish Parliament election, which is due to take place in May just as he becomes moderator.

Lord Wallace added: “I went into politics to make a positive difference to society and my motivation is grounded in my Christian faith.

“It is a core belief that if people are to live life in all its fullness as promised by Jesus, this has implications for the kind of society we want to have.

“People have to have good health, a sound education, rewarding employment and a healthy environment.

“I hope that my years of experience in public life as an MP for Orkney and Shetland then as MSP for Orkney will stand me in good stead as I carry out the duties of the moderator of the General Assembly.”