Kirk names Moderator Designate for 2018-19

Rev Susan Brown has been named as the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Pic:  Paul Campbell/Church of Scotland.
Rev Susan Brown has been named as the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Pic: Paul Campbell/Church of Scotland.

The Highland minister who married Madonna and Guy Ritchie and baptised their son Rocco will be the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Rev Susan Brown, minister of Dornoch Cathedral, will step into the 12-month role next May.

The 58-year-old says she is “deeply moved and honoured” to be chosen as the Church of Scotland’s ambassador for 2018-19.

Mrs Brown said: “Being Moderator will not be about what I can do, but about what God wants to do.

“I am conscious that it is both a great privilege and a great responsibility - one I can only undertake at God’s prompting.”

Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland, welcomed Mrs Brown’s appointment.

He said: “I was delighted to hear of Susan’s nomination. She brings great personal qualities and a wide range of ministerial, community and family experience to the post. I look forward to working with her throughout the year.”

Mrs Brown brings 32 years of experience as a Highlands minister to the role. Her first parish as a fully-fledged minister was at Killearnan on the Black Isle.

She spent 13 years there before moving to Dornoch Cathedral.

Mrs Brown said: “Dornoch is a beautiful place to be and Dornoch people have a wonderful warmth and hospitality.

“When you’re in the far north you are much more likely to be at the heart of everything and that’s very important to me.

“In the Highlands you will find the church at the heart of the community and the community in the heart of the church.”

Until now Mrs Brown was probably best known as the minister who married Madonna and Guy Ritchie and baptised their son Rocco.

As minister in the beautiful and historic 13th century Dornoch Cathedral, she is asked to marry around 30-40 couples every year.

Mrs Brown will take up the role of Moderator 50 years after the first woman was ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.

“I’m grateful to all those who paved the way for me and other women to follow a calling to ministry,” she said.

“In my mid-teens when I first felt God was asking me to serve him through parish ministry, I had never met or even heard of a minister who was a woman.

“My mother tried to discourage me at first, telling me I was too short to be a minister, (just under 5 feet) but today at 93, she is extremely proud.”

During Mrs Brown’s year as Moderator (2018-19) she will act as the Kirk’s ambassador, visiting four Church of Scotland presbyteries, preaching at special events and meeting faith leaders and dignitaries in Scotland and abroad.

She will also take part in the centenary commemorations for the First World War.

“In looking back on this milestone anniversary, we need to let the past remind us of the huge toll war exacts and we need to learn from the experience of those young men and women who paid a price beyond asking,” said Mrs Brown.

“The fact that 2018 has also been designated the Year of Young People provides a poignant reminder of the connection of the past, the present and the future.”