The head of a Christian charity which fights global poverty has been elected the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, who has led Christian Aid in Scotland since 2016, will serve as the Kirk’s ambassador at home and abroad for the next year.

The 59-year-old said she is “beyond humbled, inexpressibly honoured and more than a wee bit excited” to represent the Church in this role.

Mrs Foster-Fulton is looking forward to meeting and encouraging people involved in church work at local, national and international levels at a time of unprecedented challenge and opportunity.

She was passed the official ring and chain of office by the outgoing Moderator, Very Rev Dr Iain Greenshields.

Mrs Foster-Fulton said: “I am beyond humbled, inexpressibly honoured and more than a wee bit excited to be your Moderator. Thank you for your trust, your prayers and the commitment you share to be part of the body of Christ in this place.”

Mrs Foster-Fulton told the General Assembly that she has gone a “bit rogue” with her choice of official Moderator clothing but said there is a reason.

“It has felt like an extraordinary time in the life of the planet, the life of the country and the life of the Church of Scotland,” she added.

“Green is the liturgical colour for ‘ordinary time’ and it reminds us, throughout history, the world, the country, the Church, have experienced extraordinary challenges,” she added.

“And it has been the grit, the determination and the hopeful imagination of individuals and communities who have risen together to those challenges."

“Ordinary time is extraordinary and we know what is at stake – all we need to do is look around us.

“There is a South African phrase ‘Ubuntu’ – best translated ‘I am because you are’.

“The body of Christ has work to do - love to share, justice and equity to seek.

“When I look at you wonderful people, I see an audacious hope.

“So General Assembly, right reverend, let’s roll up our sleeves and bring it.”

Born and raised in South Carolina in the USA, Mrs Foster-Fulton is married to Rev Stuart Fulton, a fellow Church of Scotland minister who serves the parish of Newlands South Church in Glasgow.

The couple, who live in Glasgow, have two adult daughters, Alex and Gracie.

The new Moderator has experience working in parishes, hospital chaplaincy and was convener of the former Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland from 2012-16.

Ordained as a Church of Scotland minister in 1999, Mrs Foster-Fulton’s first charge was Camelon Irving Parish Church in Falkirk where she spent four years.

The married couple took up the role of co-pastors for the PCUSA congregation in Seneca, South Carolina, and stayed for four years before returning to Scotland, the place that the Moderator Designate considers home.

In 2007, Mrs Foster-Fulton was appointed associate minister at Dunblane Cathedral where she served for 10 years before taking up her current role at Christian Aid.

She recently became a grandmother and she said her new role has “shifted her perspective and given new meaning” to her commitment to try and make the world a better place.

“There are hefty challenges facing the Church of Scotland, there are monumental challenges facing the world and the church is not exempt,” added the Moderator.

“Across our global neighbourhood, we face a triple threat, ones that feed on each other – climate change, conflict and COVID.

“Together, they add pressure on well-being, a sense of home and culture, on finances and resources – and sadly unsurprising, it is the most vulnerable who suffer most.

“Being a living, breathing, reforming and loving body of Christ in this place continues to be the mission and ministry of the Church of Scotland.”

Dr Greenshields told the new Moderator that he recognised that this is a proud moment for her and her family.

“You bring considerable and unique experience with you to this important role and calling,” he said.

“Your face and voice are well known to the General Assembly as you served as convener of the Church and Society Council and helped to advance the Church's work on human rights, climate justice and support for people struggling with poverty in Scotland as well as overseas.

“You campaign relentlessly for what is right in Christ’s name.

“It is in your DNA to be a voice for those in greatest need in our world.

“It is a privilege to honour someone of such vigour and determination and faith should be chosen as the next Moderator of the General Assembly.

“May the Lord bless you in all that you seek to do to promote the cause of Christ.”

It comes as the King said he is “inspired” by the way the Church of Scotland and other faith communities have provided care to the poor and asylum seekers.

A letter from Charles was read out at the church’s general assembly gathering in Edinburgh, the first time this has happened since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away at her Balmoral home last September.

The King’s letter used the royal term “we” as it was read aloud during the opening ceremony in Edinburgh.

As is tradition, the King pledged to “preserve and uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland”.

The letter stated: “We deeply appreciated the many expressions of condolences we received on the death of Her Majesty 

Queen Elizabeth, our beloved mother, and for the warmth and dignity of the national service of thanksgiving for her life that was held at St Giles’ Cathedral.

“We are very conscious at this time of the pain for so many people across the world who are suffering from the vagaries of war and poverty. We are, as ever, inspired by the way in which the Church of Scotland, with other churches and faith communities, has expressed the Gospel imperative to the poor and made the care of refugees and asylum seekers such a priority.”

He praised the joint “peace pilgrimage” visit to South Sudan, which the Church of Scotland’s moderator made along with the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis.

The letter said: “Their messages of justice, peace and reconciliation were made all the more powerful by their visible presence which signified both the unity and diversity of the Churches. These messages are equally vital in Sudan where people are again threatened by conflict. We pray for a swift end to the current hostilities to ease the human suffering and bring peace.”

And the King said that he was “greatly encouraged” by the church’s inter-faith dialogue and a declaration of friendship with Catholic bishops in Scotland.

The letter continued: “We are aware of the challenges which the Church is facing as it continues the process of reform, as well as its discernment of God’s will for the future shape of ministry and mission across Scotland."

“Our prayers remain with you, and may the Holy Spirit continue to guide the Church with wisdom, grace and hope in all its decision-making.”

The moderator’s role sees Rev Foster-Fulton chair proceedings at the Assembly Hall on the Mound over five days from yesterday, and thereafter act as an ambassador for the church, speaking on its behalf at engagements at home and abroad for the next 12 

Those at the Assembly, either in the hall or joining online, will hear details of a report setting out the challenging financial situation facing the church, as well as take part in topical debates and vote on issues brought forward by forums and committees.

Sensitive subjects due to be debated include proposed legislation allowing assisted suicide, and the decision that was taken more than 10 years ago to remain neutral in the debate on Scottish independence.

Rev Foster-Fulton previously said she was “beyond humbled, inexpressibly honoured and more than a wee bit excited” to be the Moderator.

She told the Assembly: “There are hefty challenges facing the Church of Scotland.”
monumental challenges facing the world and the church is not exempt.