The Moderator of the General Assembly has embarked on a five-day visit to London to nurture and maintain the Kirk’s strong relationships with a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations.
Right Rev Dr Derek Browning was the guest preacher at St Paul’s Cathedral yesterday afternoon.
He said it was a “privilege” to take part in the Evensong Service at the invitation of its Chancellor, Canon Mark Oakley.
Dr Browning will hold talks with a wide range of people and organisations, including Prime Minister Theresa May, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
He will also meet the Israeli ambassador to the UK, representatives from the United Reformed Church, Christian Aid, the Dean of Westminster, Very Rev John Hall, Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, and Steve Chalke, the founder of the Oasis Charitable Trust
A wide range of issues will be discussed including Britain’s exit from the European Union, Universal Credit, faith in a secular world and human trafficking.
St Andrew was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ and the day to celebrate his role as Scotland’s patron saint is on Thursday.
Reflecting on the trip around St Andrew’s-tide, Dr Browning said: “The Church continues to speak out on a number of challenging issues that face our communities and our world today.
“During the visit, I am looking forward to a variety of meetings with Christian churches and faith communities.
“I am meeting the Israeli Ambassador and Chief Rabbi, as the Church continues to work on its relationships with the Jewish communities in Britain, and particularly important in relation to my visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan in the New Year.
“I enjoyed preaching at St Paul’s Cathedral and looking forward to visiting our colleagues in the United Reformed Church and the Methodist Church.”
Dr Browning said there was always a political component to the St Andrew’s-tide visit and he would be visiting the Houses of Parliament.
“A visit to St Martin in-the-Fields Church will be important in helping the Church of Scotland learn more about the HeartEdge initiative being developed there,” he added.
“It is centred on how churches in the contemporary world respond to context and needs in their local situations.
“It will also be good to hear more about the ongoing work of Christian Aid, and also Borderline, the charity that helps homeless people, including Scots, in London.
“The St Andrews-tide visit is about building bridges, maintaining relationships, and being supportive of good causes – all of which are things that St Andrew, our patron saint, would surely have approved.”