Now the Renfrew minister is to be the next chairwoman of the General Assembly, she thinks it is barely long enough.
"There are so many decisions to be made," she says, with gusto. "I've got two diaries."
A hectic schedule will not be her biggest challenge. In May, the General Assembly will consider a report on the vexed issue of ordaining gay men and women, and it will be her job to referee what is likely to be an impassioned and at times difficult debate. The fact the church has, in Rev Hood, 59, chosen a trained mediator and enthusiastic promoter of A Place for Hope – a new initiative within the Church of Scotland aimed at resolving conflicts over everything from issues of theology to the colour of the carpet – is probably no coincidence.
She is far too diplomatic to make any comment on the issue, saying only her job will be to ensure "lots of different views" are heard. "You're not there to push your opinion," she adds resolutely.
The fact she projects cheerfulness and positivity will not hurt either. When she answers the door to the sandstone Victorian manse in Renfrew that has been her family home for 30 years, her face breaks into a wide smile. At 5ft, she must seem tiny beside her predominantly male colleagues at the General Assembly but, with her expansive personality, has never found it a disadvantage. Ushering me into her immaculate lounge, where photographs of her two grown-up children hang on the walls, she is chatty and easygoing, tucking her stockinged feet beneath her on the armchair and tackling every question with disarming directness.
Reaching this point in her career was never a foregone conclusion. The journey from her roots, growing up in a council house in Kilmarnock, may not have been far in geographical terms but vocationally she has climbed mountains. Both of her parents died when she was a teenager; what does she think they would make of her becoming moderator? "I think my parents would find it unbelievable, but they would be quietly proud," she reflects. "They could never have conceived of it."
She was an only child and her mother was 40 when she was born ("I think they had probably given up"). Both her parents worked, her mother at a knitwear factory and her father at Kilmarnock swimming pool. To her parents' delight, she did well enough at primary school to win a place at Kilmarnock Academy.
The carefree youth came to an end when she lost her mother at 15. "She had cancer, although I didn't know it at the time," she explains. "Those were the days when cancer was the word you didn't talk about, so she just had a 'sore back'. There was an awful fear that surrounded it. It was in the days before hospice care and she died a horrendous death."
She and her parents had always gone to church on Sundays but seeing her "quiet, gentle" mother in pain made her angry, partly with God and partly with the bitter awfulness of the situation. Due to her experience she has been a lifelong advocate for hospice care, giving speeches in support of the Accord hospice in Paisley.
Aged 19, when she was nearing the end of her first year at Glasgow University studying history and principles of theology, her father died. "That was a bit of a struggle," she says, frowning slightly at the flimsy phrase. "But," she says, suddenly brisk, "I got through, I went to live with my aunt and she was great."
She is silent for a moment and then becomes reflective. "When you look back now you think, 'How did I manage?'. But you do because you have to; you have to get on with life. You grow up very fast. I had some good friends and folks at school were very supportive when my mother died. The rector was a very stern man, James Hislop, but I saw another side of him; he was just lovely with me."
As a teenager she had pondered the idea of becoming a minister but her guidance teacher discouraged her and she started planning to be a religious education teacher instead. After graduating in 1974 she was still drawn to the idea so went along to Church of Scotland selection school (one of only two women) – and, to her surprise, was accepted.
After a stint in Kilmarnock, she went to St Ninian's in Corstorphine, Edinburgh, as an assistant (to the delight of the 5ft 2in minister, Rev Colin Martin, whose previous two assistants had been well over 6ft). She was ordained while at the church and continued there as a minister, during which time she met her husband, Peter, who is from Stockton-on-Tees. They were engaged within six months and married the following year, in 1979. The couple have two children, Laura, 28, a doctor in Dundee, and Michael, 24, who works in the oil industry in Aberdeen. It wasn't always easy managing the work-life balance, especially when the children were young and she had to go out to meetings in the evenings, but the couple managed it together.
Peter, a former college lecturer and management accountant for the NHS, retired 16 months ago: "He loves it. He does the shopping and things, so it's great," she says.
"I couldn't have done it without him; well, I could have, but it would have been lonely. He's very calm, he's someone who likes the background and is very much a quieter person. I can come in and rant and rave about something but he'll always see the other side of it. Having the kids, he was great, especially in the early days of my ministry when I was out and about; he was a calming influence on them."
Rev Hood took over Renfrew Parish Church North in 1979 and has been there ever since. Much has changed in 34 years, particularly the drop in the number of children worshipping. "In the early days I would go into primary one and the teacher would ask, 'Who knows Mrs Hood?' At least half the class would put their hands up and I would know the others, but that doesn't happen now," she says, adding that children have not just dropped in number at her church but at all churches. This leads her on to an issue of acute concern: "I feel we have a generation growing up who don't know the faith, the stories of the faith and the heritage we have."
Many parents, of course, feel they should allow their children to make up their own minds about religion but Rev Hood isn't convinced they can. "You need something to make up your mind about, you need the information." She believes the church has to find "new ways of communicating" with those not schooled in the Christian faith.
Alongside ministering to her flock, Rev Hood was a chaplain at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley for 22 years, where she became acutely aware of the special care needs of women who had lost babies or whose babies were very ill. She and her medical colleagues pioneered an award-winning project tranforming how such women were looked after, which included having a family room and, when an infant died, a memorial service. "The first memorial service we did was heartbreaking," she remembers. "We advertised it was happening and had people there who had lost a baby 40 years ago. Afterwards I had letters saying that had been the first time they'd been able to say goodbye.
"That became a really important part of my work. It was hard at times – the number of times I've sat with people when their wee one was taken off life support – but you were needed and felt being there meant something."
Today, she is one of 10 Queen's chaplains, which means attending ceremonial occasions with her counterparts such as the opening of the Scottish Parliament. She has even stayed at Balmoral as a guest of the Queen ("I was absolutely terrified going in, but she made me feel very much at home.")
Even that pales in comparison to being chosen as moderator – only the third woman to take on the role. She is "humbled", she says, and clearly means it. "The responsibility that's placed on you, that's the terrifying bit," she says, "not believing in yourself enough," though she adds that God doesn't give you more to bear than he thinks you're up to.
She received many messages of support when the news broke and one in particular gave her pause for thought. "I got a phone call from one of the oldest, longest-serving moderators, Hugh Wyllie, and he said, 'Lorna, 'I will pray for you. Every night, at half past 10, know that I will be praying for you. If you've had a bad day, still know that I will be praying for you.'"
As she prepares to become the public face of the Church of Scotland, she is greatly touched by the thought.
Rev Lorna Hood Incoming Church of Scotland moderator