Alison Elliot

For the actress, see Alison Elliott.

Alison Elliot[1] OBE is the Associate Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2004 she became the first woman ever to be elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. An elder and session clerk at Greyfriars, Tollbooth and Highland Kirk in Edinburgh, she was also the first non-minister to hold this post since George Buchanan in 1567.

Background and education

Alison Elliot was born in Edinburgh in 1948. She was educated at Bathgate Academy, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sussex.


Her professional career is in psychology, but her public profile has been chiefly through her church work. She was Research Associate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh 1973–1974, then Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Lancaster 1974–1976 and at the University of Edinburgh 1977–1985. She is the author of two publications: Child Language (1981) and The Miraculous Everyday (2005).

She served as Convener of the Committee on Church and Nation of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1996–2000, as well as Session Clerk at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh. She has also become highly involved in building ecumenical relations, and was a member of the Central Committee of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) 2003-2009 (and also moderated CEC's Assembly held in Lyon, France, in July 2009). She has also played a key role in Action of Churches Together in Scotland. The OBE was conferred upon her for her ecumenical work.

She is a founding board member of the Palestine Festival of Literature. Since 2007 she has been Convener of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.


She is married to John (Jo) Elliot; they live in Edinburgh. They have a son and a daughter, Johnny and Christina.

Artistic recognition

In 2004 the Scottish National Portrait Gallery commissioned a portrait of Alison by Jennifer McRae.[2]


  1. Roy, Christopher D. (2006). Who's Who in Scotland (2006 ed.). Ayr: Carrick Media. ISBN 0-946724-56-3.
  2. The Grange Newsletter (broadsheet) May 2016

See also

Religious titles
Preceded by
Iain Torrance
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Succeeded by
David Lacy
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