Next Kirk Moderator is selected

An Ayrshire-based minister is set to become the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

A Kirk committee selected the Reverend David W Lacy of Kilmarnock Henderson Parish Church to take on the role of Moderator Designate.

He will formally take over from Dr Alison Elliot, subject to the approval of the General Assembly, in May 2005.

Rev Lacy, 52, triumphed over four other male nominees for the post.

The selection of a man marks a return to tradition after the church, in a landmark move, appointed a woman to the key role for the first time last year.

Dr Elliot was named Moderator Designate after being selected from an all-female shortlist of two in 2003.

Rev Lacy was born in Inverness and educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and The High School of Glasgow.

After graduating in practical theology, he went on to become a probationer at St George's West Church in Edinburgh in 1975, remaining there after his ordination until 1977.

The minister went on to serve in Glasgow before taking up his present role in Kilmarnock in 1989.

From 1992 to this year, the married father-of-two served as a member and then convenor of the General Assembly Board of Practice and Procedure.

He was the Assembly's business convener from 2001 to 2004 and is currently a member of the Council of Assembly.

The minister said he was "bowled over" by the news of his selection and had "no idea" why he was chosen.

He said: "If I could examine the minds of those who elected me I would be fascinated to see what they thought.

"It's probably just because I am a normal, ordinary parish minister and I seem to have fitted the bill."

'Inviolate' nature

Rev Lacy refused to categorise himself as either a reformer or a traditionalist, but said that he was "fully in favour" of the changes the Kirk is undergoing.

He said: "I believe in the inviolate nature of the church. It has had some bad press, but I still believe that the church is an ongoing institution.

"The church is changing rapidly at the moment and I am fully in favour of that change. I am really just a servant of the Assembly and I will do what they tell me."

Rev Lacy saw off competition from four other hopefuls on the all-male shortlist to be approved by the Committee to Nominate the Moderator.

The other nominees were the Rev TJ Loudon Blair, minister of Galston Parish Church in Ayrshire; Rev Erik Cramb, industrial mission organiser in Dundee; Rev James Gibson, minister of Bothwell Parish Church in Lanarkshire; and Rev Peter Neilson, a mission developments facilitator in Edinburgh.

One of the Moderator's primary purposes will be to rule the Assembly, lead daily worship, rule on points of order and sign documents on behalf of the Assembly.

After May, the moderator generally travels as a church representative in Scotland, other parts of the UK and overseas in an ambassadorial capacity. The role is honorary and is held for 12 months.