Two weeks ago the Presbyterian Mother Church – that would be the Church of Scotland – announced that the Rev. Dr. Derek Browning had been selected as the Moderator Designate for their 2017 General Assembly in May.
Rev. Dr. Browning is no stranger to many in the Church of Scotland, especially those familiar with the Assembly, as he has had a regular presence on the platform as the Business Convener for several years now. (You can consult the picture at the end of this article.)
His primary call is as the minister at Morningside Parish Church in Edinburgh, having served there for the last 15 years. He began in pastoral ministry at Cupar Old and St Michael of Tarvit Parish Church in Fife in 1987.
He studied at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, from which he ultimately completed a MA Honors History degree. He did his ministerial training at St. Mary’s College, St. Andrews, and later completed a D.Min. at Princeton Theological Seminary.
His extended list of service to the church is too long to recite here, but it is worth noting that besides his service as convener of the Assembly Business Committee, he has served as a presbytery moderator and on the national Prayer and Devotion Committee as well as the Stewardship and Finance Committee. He has also served as the chair of the Board of Directors at the Eric Liddell Centre.
It is noted in the announcement that in his work with the Assembly Arrangements Committee and the Business Committee, he has had significant responsibility for organizing the Heart And Soul event that is held on the Sunday afternoon of Assembly Week. In the press release he is quoted as saying, “The theme for Heart and Soul 2017 is ‘Word of Life’ and this rich and layered theme speaks to me about many things but ‘inclusion’ is one of those words of life. The issue of social inclusion is a key one in society and the church.” He continues, “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. Jesus was often found not only at the heart and centre of things but also on the fringes and the margins and that is where the Church must be.”
The articles says “he believes social inclusion is clearly a “gospel issue” and hopes to use his time as Moderator to highlight ongoing work carried out by churches that support people on the margins of society.”
The article also speaks briefly of his faith journey and how as he was feeling pulled in multiple directions upon completing college, including working for the BBC in London or for Shell Oil. But, he knew he had to address his spiritual pull first. The article says:
“I was in my early 20s when I felt a call not only to be a Christian, but to become a minister,” he said.
“For some people this is a gradual realisation, but for me it was a sudden awakening that I couldn’t put off until I had dealt with the questions it posed, and explored the possibility.
“My ministry afterwards has stuck with those two themes: dealing with questions and exploring possibilities.”
The announcement was widely covered in Scotland with articles by the BBC Scotland, The Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra, Herald Scotland, The East Lothian Courier, The Edinburgh Reporter, and The Courier.
I will conclude with my personal congratulations to him. I had the pleasure of spending a week in June sitting in from of him (and he has posted a picture on Twitter which clearly demonstrates that I do not improve the view). It was a pleasure to get to know him at the PC(USA) General Assembly that week and trade
snarky insightful remarks. Commissioners to the Kirk General Assembly, be aware that he has a sharp and dry wit. I look forward to following the proceedings.
So best wishes to Dr. Browning as he takes on this new role. I have every confidence he will bring as much honor to the office as it will bring to him. And prayers for this time as he prepares for his moderatorial year.
In addition, my apologies for the delay getting this posted as well as an overall lack of posting. I have taken on a major responsibility that has dominated my time and I am afraid blogging will be a lower priority for the next 10 months. I will try to do what I can.]