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Reform Magazine | December 6, 2023

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Unmoderated exchange

Unmoderated exchange

Two Scottish Moderators, of the URC and the Church of Scotland, meet up to talk. Rachel Fitzgerald reports

Two female Moderators of national Church Assemblies, both based in Edinburgh – an opportunity too good to miss! The Revd Fiona Bennett is the outgoing General Assembly Moderator for the United Reformed Church and the Right Revd Sally Foster-Fulton became Moderator of the Church of Scotland General Assembly in May. They met up in Edinburgh’s Augustine United Church to talk about women in Church leadership and what they’ve learned, or hope to learn, during their year of service.

First, they discussed the idea of a glass ceiling for women in leadership. ‘The issue is not the ceiling but the walls’, said Fiona. It’s not just about allowing women into the structure, she said, but ‘how we manage power. It’s about allowing those who are not dominant within the system to change how we see and organise ourselves’. The URC, of course, has a long history of women in church leadership and there have been many female moderators before Fiona, but institutionally both the URC and the Church of Scotland have established ways of working that can be very difficult to change.

Sally agreed. She said that the glass in the ceiling is definitely toughened, ‘but until someone starts to push against it, until the marks and smudges start to appear, it can be almost impossible to see’.

Both Fiona and Sally, however, have found they could step into these leadership spaces and do things differently. It’s been a heartening experience to find the institutions willing to change and shift. The walls are moving!..


This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2023 edition of Reform

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