A MINISTER with a special role as a Queen's Chaplain is to head one of the most critical General Assemblies in Kirk history next year.

Reverend Lorna Hood, one of 10 chaplains of the Royal Household in Scotland, has been nominated to be the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The minister – who provides royal ministry as well as to those in her own parish – will oversee the debate on the implementation of gay ordination – sparked by the appointment of openly homosexual Rev Scott Rennie in Aberdeen.

Queen's Chaplains are invited to preach at Crathie and be on duty as required by the Queen when in Scotland. They also take part in national services and royal events.

The Kirk faces its largest schism since the Disruption of 1843 when hundreds left to form the Free Church.

Mrs Hood, pictured, was chosen by the Committee to Nominate the Moderator in Edinburgh as Moderator-Designate – a process that could be used for the last time, with plans to change the way the post is filled being considered.

She will take up the office of Moderator in May 2013, on the opening day of the General Assembly, the annual gathering attended by 1000 leading members.

She takes over from the Right Rev Albert Bogle.

In 2011, Mrs Hood completed her training for the Church of Scotland's mediation project, called A Place for Hope.