New Moderator's close brush with the law

The Reverend Lorna Hood

The Reverend Lorna Hood is about to become the next Moderator of the General Assembly of Scotland but at one point she thought she might be carted off by the police before she had the chance.

The Moderator's ring went missing at Edinburgh Airport last month and an appeal went out for its return.

However, the Church did not disclose that it had a replica of the ring.

When Mrs Hood went with an aide to a jeweller's shop to have the duplicate version fitted to her finger, staff recognised the distinctive ring, with its burning bush symbol, and immediately contacted the police.

Not long after she had left the shop, the head office of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh's George Street, received a phone call from the police to say that the ring had been brought to a jeweller's shop.

Thankfully the matter was resolved and Mrs Hood will be wearing the duplicate ring when she becomes Moderator at the Church of Scotland's General Assembly on Saturday.

She sees the funny side of her close brush with the law.

"I thought my official photos as Moderator might end up on Crimewatch or end up with a serial number in front of it," she said.

"I was thinking how it must seem and conclusions that might be drawn. Two suspicious ladies walk into a shop. New Moderator is international jewel thief."

The Church of Scotland is offering a four-figure sum for the safe return of the ring, as well as a historic cross which was also in the bag that went missing at the airport.

The outgoing Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland the Right Reverend Albert Bogle admitted he was "disappointed" that he could not pass on the original ring to Mrs Hood, a tradition started by its first owner, the Right Reverend Dr Mitford Mitchell, a century ago.

Mr Bogle added: "However I do have something more powerful than silver and gold to pass on. It is the assurance that literally thousands of people within the Church of Scotland pray for the Moderator every day.

"One past Moderator prays every evening for the Moderator at 10.30pm. It has been this knowledge and encounter with God through the prayers of others that has sustained me over the past year and I'm confident will sustain Lorna."

While the Church continues to look for the ring, Mr Bogle said it was keeping the loss "in perspective".

"Many people around the world have had a child stolen or have found themselves stolen and sold into slavery," he said.

"Compared to these losses my disappointment pails into insignificance. It is this life of prayer for others that helps me put my disappointment into perspective.

"I have come to think of the cross not so much as having been stolen as having been taken on a journey by someone who has yet to encounter its power and significance. When they do that in itself will be another story."

Anyone with information about this incident should contact Police Scotland on 101 or visit their nearest Police office, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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