A minister who played a key role in establishing the Church of Scotland's biggest annual open-air festival has been named as the next Moderator of its General Assembly.
Rev Dr Derek Browning will take over the 12-month role in May 2017.
The 54-year-old, who has served Morningside Parish Church in Edinburgh since 2001, will succeed Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr.
Dr Browning was ordained at Cupar Old Parish Church in Fife in 1987
and gained a Doctor of Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary in the
United States in 1997.
"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
"My ministry afterwards has stuck with those two themes: dealing with questions and exploring possibilities."
Dr Browning says the Church is evolving.
"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," he added.
"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 is currently the convener of the General Assembly's
Business Committee, which also has responsibility for the Heart and Soul
festival in Edinburgh's Princes St Gardens each May.
"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," he said.
"The issue of social inclusion is a key one in society and the church".
Dr Browning said 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.
"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," he added.
"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