Nicola Sturgeon's eight year service as First Minister of Scotland has been praised by the Christian colleague who is being touted to succeed her.
Kate Forbes MSP is Finance minister in Holyrood and said on news that the Leader of the Scottish National Party would be resigning: "Nicola Sturgeon has led our country with distinction, resilience, and compassion. Her work ethic, her care for people and her desire to serve are second to none."
In a hastily convened news conference, Nicola Sturgeon said she believes the "time is now" to stand aside but denied reacting to "short-term pressures" after a series of political setbacks. The First Minister said she will remain in office while the SNP select her successor.
"In my head and in my heart I know that time is now. That it's right for me, for my party and my country."
Responding to news of her resignation, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said "We wish her well for the future. The Church continues to uphold all elected politicians in our prayers as they seek to do their best for all people who live in Scotland and across the wider UK."
But Rev David Robertson, who served for 27 years as minister of St Peters Free Church in Dundee and blogs as "theweeflea", tweeted that her resignation was "both inevitable and excellent!" Previously he had been critical of Nicola Sturgeon's efforts for independence, saying she was "killing off Indy with her ideology and tactics".
Ms Sturgeon, 52, who led the SNP to repeated election victories at UK, Scottish and local level, acknowledged the "physical and mental impact" of the role.
"Since my very first moments in the job I have believed a part of serving well would be to know almost instinctively when the time is right to make way for someone else," she said from her residence at Bute House in Edinburgh.
The First Minister has suffered a series of political challenges in recent months as her Government sought to push through gender reforms, only for them to be blocked on legal grounds by Westminster.
She insisted the row surrounding a transgender double rapist being sent to a women's jail "wasn't the final straw" but said it is "time for someone else" to lead the party.
Ms Sturgeon acknowledged the "choppy waters" but insisted her resignation was not in response to the "latest period of pressure", but came from a "deeper and longer-term assessment".
Kate Forbes, 32, has had a stellar ascent since her election to the Scottish Parliament. She is a member of the Free Church of Scotland and open about the importance to her of following Jesus Christ. But there are questions whether she would want the job, given she is currently on maternity leave following the birth of her first child.
Among other potential successors, the SNP's leader at Westminster, Stephen Flynn MP, is being touted to take over from Ms Sturgeon, but doesn't have a seat in Holyrood. Deputy first minister John Swinney, constitution secretary Angus Robertson and health secretary Humza Yousaf are also being mentioned to take over.