AN Edinburgh-based cleric has been announced as principal clerk designate in the Church of Scotland, a key role within the religious body.

Rev Dr George Whyte, who is the current clerk to Edinburgh presbytery and who has been assisting as depute to the current principal clerk since 2011, has been announced as the successful candidate in the selection process which was completed earlier this week.

Dr Whyte said he was delighted to be offered the position and added: “I am honoured to have been chosen by the selection panel.

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"If the assembly approves my appointment, I will seek to work collaboratively with colleagues across the Church as together we face up to the challenges of our day.”

Dr Whyte trained at the University of Glasgow, before his ordination in 1981 as minister of Kilchrenan and Dalvich with Muckairn Argyll.

He has also been minister at Langside in Glasgow and Colinton in Edinburgh, before taking on the role as presbytery clerk in Edinburgh in 2008.

The minister will be presented to commissioners, or delegates, at the start of the annual Edinburgh gathering of senior Kirk members, the General Assembly, on Saturday May 20 as the preferred candidate, when they will be invited to confirm his appointment.

The current principal clerk, Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, retires from the post this summer.

He said: “I wish George well in this role - he is a man of considerable acumen and vision who will make a valuable contribution to the future life of the Church in these challenging and changing times."

Rev Dr Martin Scott, secretary to the council of assembly, also offered his congratulations to Dr Whyte.

He said: “This is an exciting time to be involved in steering a course for the future of our Church, and I am very much looking forward to working with Dr Whyte in the coming months.”

It is anticipated Dr Whyte will take up his post at the start of the General Assembly.