Minister who led Fife congregation to take Church of Scotland’s highest role

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Rev Dr Derek Browning

A former Fife minister is to be the next moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Rev Dr Derek Browning will take over the 12-month role in May, next year.

His first charge was at Cupar Old Parish Church, where he was ordained in 1987 and led the congregation for 14 years.

He is also a graduate of St Mary’s College in St Andrews and has served the Church in several capacities in St Andrews and Edinburgh presbyteries and at national level.

Dr Browning, 54, will succeed the Right Rev Dr Russell Barr as the Church’s ambassador at home and abroad.

He said: “Being nominated as moderator is the greatest honour the Church of Scotland can bestow.

“It’s a huge privilege.”

Dr Browning graduated as a doctor of ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary in the United States in 1997 and read history at Corpus Christi College in Oxford.

He has served Morningside Parish Church in Edinburgh since 2001.

He also played a key role in establishing the church’s biggest annual open-air festival, the Heart and Soul festival in Edinburgh.

Dr Browning takes the lead at what he said was a time when the church was evolving.

He said: “Structures and organisations around us continue to change, but the big questions about who we are, why we are here, and what must we do and be are the ones people continue to ask.

“These are challenging times for people of faith and for the Church.

“An American colleague said recently ‘The Church isn’t dying, it’s re-forming.’

“Re-forming is a costly and unsettling process but a fit-for-purpose 21st Century Church must have the resilience and the flexibility to be unashamed of its faith in Jesus Christ, and practical in its living out of that faith.”

Dr Browning, who has contributed to BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought programme, intends to use his tenure to highlight work by churches to support those on the margins of society.

He said: “People find themselves excluded for all sorts of reasons and the Church must play a role in bridging the gaps between individuals, communities and nations.

“The Church has much to offer, and has much to learn.”