Female line-up for Kirk

October 17, 2003

An Edinburgh University academic may become the first woman to break through the Church of Scotland's so-called stained-glass ceiling later this month.

Alison Elliot, associate director of Edinburgh University's Centre for Theology and Public Issues, has been nominated along with one other woman for the post of moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Kirk's appointments committee will vote on the nominations later this month. The honorary post is held for a year.

Women have been ordained ministers in the Kirk since 1968, but no woman has been elected moderator. There is growing pressure for that to change.

It is not unusual for an academic to be moderator: the current post-holder is Iain Torrance, professor in patristics and Christian ethics at Aberdeen University.

Dr Elliot was ordained at Edinburgh's Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk in 1984. This year she was awarded an OBE for services to the Church of Scotland and ecumenical relations. She chairs the Scottish Churches' Forum, which represents the nine mainstream churches north of the border.

She was born in Edinburgh, and she took an MA in mathematics with general linguistics at Edinburgh University, followed by an MSc in experimental psychology at Sussex University. She returned to Edinburgh to take a PhD in children's language development. She lectured in psychology at Lancaster and Edinburgh universities before moving to the school of divinity.

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