Church of Scotland
Overview
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

 name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

 church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation
Scottish Reformation
The Scottish Reformation was Scotland's formal break with the Papacy in 1560, and the events surrounding this. It was part of the wider European Protestant Reformation; and in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the re-establishment of the church along Reformed lines, and politically in...

.

The Church of Scotland traces its roots back to the beginnings of Christianity in Scotland
Christianity in Medieval Scotland
Christianity in Medieval Scotland pertains to the Christian religion in Scotland in the Middle Ages. Prior to the Reformation in the early modern period, Scotland was a Roman Catholic country.-Early Christianity:...

, but its identity is principally shaped by the Reformation of 1560. Its current pledged membership is about 9% of the Scottish population
Demographics of Scotland
Scotland has a population of 5,222,100 . Covering an area of , Scotland has a population density of . Around 70% of the country's population live in the Central Lowlands — a broad, fertile valley stretching in a northeast-southwest orientation between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and...

—though according to the 2001 national census
United Kingdom Census 2001
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....

, 42% of the Scottish population claim some form of allegiance to it (see Religion in Scotland
Religion in Scotland
Christianity is the largest religion in Scotland. At the 2001 census 65% of the Scottish population was Christian. The Church of Scotland, often known as The Kirk, is recognised in law as the national church of Scotland. It is not an established church and is independent of state control. However,...

).


The Church of Scotland has around 984 active minister
Minister of religion
In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community...

s, 1,179 congregations, and its official membership at approximately 464,000 comprises about 9% of the population of Scotland.
Encyclopedia
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

 name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

 church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation
Scottish Reformation
The Scottish Reformation was Scotland's formal break with the Papacy in 1560, and the events surrounding this. It was part of the wider European Protestant Reformation; and in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the re-establishment of the church along Reformed lines, and politically in...

.

The Church of Scotland traces its roots back to the beginnings of Christianity in Scotland
Christianity in Medieval Scotland
Christianity in Medieval Scotland pertains to the Christian religion in Scotland in the Middle Ages. Prior to the Reformation in the early modern period, Scotland was a Roman Catholic country.-Early Christianity:...

, but its identity is principally shaped by the Reformation of 1560. Its current pledged membership is about 9% of the Scottish population
Demographics of Scotland
Scotland has a population of 5,222,100 . Covering an area of , Scotland has a population density of . Around 70% of the country's population live in the Central Lowlands — a broad, fertile valley stretching in a northeast-southwest orientation between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and...

—though according to the 2001 national census
United Kingdom Census 2001
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....

, 42% of the Scottish population claim some form of allegiance to it (see Religion in Scotland
Religion in Scotland
Christianity is the largest religion in Scotland. At the 2001 census 65% of the Scottish population was Christian. The Church of Scotland, often known as The Kirk, is recognised in law as the national church of Scotland. It is not an established church and is independent of state control. However,...

).

Position in Scottish society

The 2001 Census
United Kingdom Census 2001
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....

>
Religion Percentage of Population
Church of Scotland 42.4%
No Religion 27.5%
Roman Catholic 15.9%
Other Christian 6.8%
No Answer 5%
Islam 0.8%
Buddhism 0.1%
Sikhism 0.1%
Judaism 0.1%
Hinduism 0.1%
Other Religions 0.5%


The Church of Scotland has around 984 active minister
Minister of religion
In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community...

s, 1,179 congregations, and its official membership at approximately 464,000 comprises about 9% of the population of Scotland. Official membership is down some 65% from its peak in 1957 of 1.32 million. Note though that in the 2001 national census, 42% of Scots identified themselves as ‘Church of Scotland’ by religion. The Church of Scotland Guild
Church of Scotland Guild
The Church of Scotland Guild or simply The Guild , is a movement within the Church of Scotland....

, historically the Kirk's women's movement, is still the largest voluntary organisation in Scotland.

Although it is the national church, the Kirk
Kirk
Kirk can mean "church" in general or the Church of Scotland in particular. Many place names and personal names are also derived from it.-Basic meaning and etymology:...

 is not a "state church
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

", and in this, and other, regards is dissimilar to the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 (the established church in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

). Under its constitution, which is recognised by acts of Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, the Kirk enjoys complete independence from the state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 in spiritual matters.

The British monarch
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

 (when in Scotland) simply attends Church (she is not, as in England, its Supreme Governor
Supreme Governor of the Church of England
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a title held by the British monarchs which signifies their titular leadership over the Church of England. Although the monarch's authority over the Church of England is not strong, the position is still very relevant to the church and is mostly...

). The monarch’s accession oath includes a promise to "defend the security" of the Church of Scotland. She is formally represented at the annual General Assembly
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the sovereign and highest court of the Church of Scotland, and is thus the Church's governing body[1] An Introduction to Practice and Procedure in the Church of Scotland, A Gordon McGillivray, 2nd Edition .-Church courts:As a Presbyterian church,...

 by a Lord High Commissioner
Lord High Commissioner
Lord High Commissioner is the style of High Commissioners, i.e. direct representatives of the monarch, in three cases in the Kingdom of Scotland and the United Kingdom, two of which are no longer extant...

 (unless she chooses to attend in person). The role is purely formal.

The Church of Scotland is committed to its ‘distinctive call and duty to bring the ordinances of religion to the people in every parish of Scotland through a territorial ministry’ (Article 3 of its Articles Declaratory
Articles Declaratory of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland
The Articles Declaratory of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland – often known as the Declaratory Articles - were drawn up early in the 20th century to facilitate the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland...

). In practice this means that the Kirk maintains a presence in every community in Scotland – and exists to serve not only its members but all Scots (the majority of funerals in Scotland are taken by its ministers). It also means that the Kirk pools its resources to ensure a continued presence in every part of Scotland.
The Church played a leading role in the provision of universal education in Scotland
Education in Scotland
Scotland has a long history of universal provision of public education, and the Scottish education system is distinctly different from the other countries of the United Kingdom...

 (the first such provision in the modern world), largely due to its desire that all people should be able to read the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. However, today it does not operate schools—these having been effectively transferred to the state in the later half of the 19th century.

Governance and administration

The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian in polity and Reformed in theology. The most recent articulation of its legal position, the Articles Declaratory
Articles Declaratory of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland
The Articles Declaratory of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland – often known as the Declaratory Articles - were drawn up early in the 20th century to facilitate the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland...

(1921), spells out the key concepts.

Courts and assemblies

As a Presbyterian church, the Kirk has no bishops, but is rather governed by elders and ministers (collectively called presbyters) sitting in a series of courts. Each congregation is led by a Kirk Session. The Kirk Sessions in turn are answerable to regional presbyteries (of which the Kirk currently has over 40). The supreme body is the annual General Assembly
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the sovereign and highest court of the Church of Scotland, and is thus the Church's governing body[1] An Introduction to Practice and Procedure in the Church of Scotland, A Gordon McGillivray, 2nd Edition .-Church courts:As a Presbyterian church,...

, which meets each May in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

.

Moderator

Each court is convened by the 'moderator
Moderators and clerks in the Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland maintains a presbyterian polity and is thus governed by a hierarchy of bodies known as church courts. Each of these courts has a moderator and a clerk.-Moderators:...

'—at the local level of the Kirk Session normally the parish minister who is ex officio member and Moderator of the Session. Congregations where there is no minister, or where the minister is incapacitated may be moderated by a specially trained elder. Presbyteries and the General Assembly elect a moderator each year. The Moderator of the General Assembly
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The Moderator of the General Assembly of Church of Scotland is a Minister, Elder or Deacon of the Church of Scotland chosen to "moderate" the annual General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which is held for a week in Edinburgh every May....

 serves for the year as the public representative of the Church—but beyond that enjoys no special powers or privileges and is in no sense the leader or official spokesperson of the Kirk. At all levels, moderators may be either elders or ministers. Only Moderators of Kirk Sessions are obliged to be trained for the role.

Councils

At a national level, the work of the Church of Scotland is chiefly carried out by "Councils", each supported by full-time staff mostly based at the Church of Scotland Offices
Church of Scotland Offices
The Church of Scotland offices are located in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland at 121 George Street. These imposing buildings are popularly known in Church circles as "one-two-one". They were designed in a Scandinavian-influenced style by the architect Sydney Mitchell and built in 1909-1911 for...

 in Edinburgh. The Councils are:
  • Church and Society Council
    Church and Society Council
    The Church and Society Council is an agency of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which is tasked with facilitating the Church's engagement with, and comment upon, national, political and social issues.The Council's remit, is to do this by:...

  • Ministries Council
  • Mission and Discipleship Council
  • Social Care Council (based at Charis House, Edinburgh)
  • Support and Services Council
  • World Mission Council


The Church of Scotland’s Social Care Council (known as CrossReach) is the largest provider of social care
Social work
Social Work is a professional and academic discipline that seeks to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of an individual, group, or community by intervening through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice, and teaching on behalf of those afflicted with poverty or any real or...

 in Scotland today, running projects for various disadvantaged and vulnerable groups: including care for the elderly; help with alcoholism
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...

, drug, and mental health
Mental health
Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and...

 problems; and assistance for the homeless.

The national Church has never shied from involvement in Scottish politics. In 1919, the General Assembly created a Church and Nation Committee, which in 2005 became the Church and Society Council
Church and Society Council
The Church and Society Council is an agency of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which is tasked with facilitating the Church's engagement with, and comment upon, national, political and social issues.The Council's remit, is to do this by:...

. The Church of Scotland was (and is) a firm opponent of nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

ry. Supporting devolution
Devolution
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

, it was one of the parties involved in the Scottish Constitutional Convention
Scottish Constitutional Convention
The Scottish Constitutional Convention was an association of Scottish political parties, churches and other civic groups, that developed a framework for a Scottish devolution. It is credited as having paved the way for the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.The Convention was...

, which resulted in the setting up of the Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament...

 in 1997. Indeed, from 1999-2004 the Parliament met in the Kirk's Assembly Hall
General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland
The Assembly Hall is located between the Lawnmarket and The Mound in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is the meeting place of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.-History:...

 in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, whilst its own building was being constructed. The Church of Scotland actively supports the work of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office was created in 1999, at the same time as the devolved Scottish Parliament was established. The office is an ecumenical one, including all the member churches of Action of Churches Together in Scotland plus some others.The office represents the interests...

 in Edinburgh.

Other Church agencies include:
  • Assembly Arrangements Committee
  • Committee on Chaplains to HM Forces
  • Church of Scotland Guild
  • Committee on Church Art and Architecture (part of the Mission and Discipleship Council)
  • Ecumenical Relations Committee
  • General Treasurer's Department
  • General Trustees (responsible for church buildings)
  • Legal Questions Committee
  • Panel on Review and Reform
  • Principal Clerk's Department
  • Safeguarding Office (child protection)
  • Stewardship and Finance Committee

Church offices

The Church of Scotland Offices
Church of Scotland Offices
The Church of Scotland offices are located in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland at 121 George Street. These imposing buildings are popularly known in Church circles as "one-two-one". They were designed in a Scandinavian-influenced style by the architect Sydney Mitchell and built in 1909-1911 for...

 are located at 121 George Street, Edinburgh
George Street, Edinburgh
Situated to the north of Princes Street, George Street is a major street in the centre of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Laid out from 1767 as part of James Craig's plan for the New Town, George Street was named in honour of King George III.-Geography:...

. These imposing buildings – popularly known in Church circles as "one-two-one" – were designed in a Scandinavian-influenced style by the architect Sydney Mitchell and built in 1909-1911 for the United Free Church of Scotland. Following the union of the churches in 1929 a matching extension was built in the 1930s.

The offices of the Moderator, Principal Clerk, General Treasurer, Law Department and all the Church councils are located at 121 George Street, with the exception of the Social Care Council (CrossReach). Each Council has its own Council Secretary who sit as a senior management team led by the Clerk to the Council of Assembly (in effect the Chief Executive). The Principal Clerk to the General Assembly is the Rev. John Chalmers.

History

While the Church of Scotland traces its roots back to the earliest Christians in Scotland, its identity was principally shaped by the Scottish Reformation
Scottish Reformation
The Scottish Reformation was Scotland's formal break with the Papacy in 1560, and the events surrounding this. It was part of the wider European Protestant Reformation; and in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the re-establishment of the church along Reformed lines, and politically in...

 of 1560. At that point, the church in Scotland broke with Rome, in a process of Protestant reform led, among others, by John Knox
John Knox
John Knox was a Scottish clergyman and a leader of the Protestant Reformation who brought reformation to the church in Scotland. He was educated at the University of St Andrews or possibly the University of Glasgow and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1536...

. It reformed its doctrines and government, drawing on the principles of John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 which Knox had been exposed to while living in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Switzerland. In 1560, the Scottish Parliament abolished papal jurisdiction and approved Calvin's Confession of Faith, but did not accept many of the principles laid out in Knox's First Book of Discipline, which argued, amongst other things, that all of the assets of the old church should pass to the new. The 1560 Reformation Settlement was not ratified by the crown for some years, and the question of church government
Ecclesiastical polity
Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or Christian denomination. It also denotes the ministerial structure of the church and the authority relationships between churches...

 also remained unresolved. In 1572 the acts of 1560 were finally approved by the young James VI, but the Concordat of Leith also allowed the crown to appoint bishops with the church's approval. John Knox himself had no clear views on the office of bishop, preferring to see them renamed as 'superintendents'; but in response to the new Concordat a Presbyterian party emerged headed by Andrew Melville
Andrew Melville
Andrew Melville was a Scottish scholar, theologian and religious reformer. His fame encouraged scholars from the European Continent to study at Glasgow and St Andrews.-Early life and early education:...

, the author of the Second Book of Discipline.

Melville and his supporters enjoyed some temporary successes—most notably in the Golden Act of 1592, which gave parliamentary approval to presbyterian courts. However, King James
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 believed that Presbyterianism was incompatible with monarchy, declaring "No bishop, no king". and by skillful manipulation of both church and state, steadily reintroduced parliamentary and then diocesan Episcopacy. By the time he died in 1625, the Church of Scotland had a full panel of bishops and archbishops. General Assemblies, moreover, met only at times and places approved by the crown.

Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 inherited a settlement in Scotland based on a balanced compromise between Calvinist doctrine and Episcopal practice. Lacking the political judgement of his father, he began to upset this by moving into more dangerous areas. Disapproving of the 'plainness' of the Scottish service he sought to introduce the kind of High Church practice in use in England. The centre piece of this new strategy was the Prayer Book of 1637. Although this was devised by a panel of Scottish bishops, and not that already in use in England, as is so often assumed, Charles' insistence that it be drawn up in secret and adopted sight unseen led to widespread discontent. When the Prayer Book was finally introduced at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh in the summer of 1637 it caused an outbreak of rioting, which spread across Scotland. In early 1638 the National Covenant was signed by large numbers of Scots, protesting at the introduction of the Prayer Book and other liturgical innovations that had not first been tested and approved by free Parliaments and General Assemblies of the Church. In November 1638, the General Assembly in Glasgow, the first to meet for twenty years, not only declared the Prayer Book unlawful, but went on to abolish the office of bishop itself. The Church of Scotland was then established on a Presbyterian basis. Charles' attempt at resistance to these developments led to the outbreak of the Bishops' Wars
Bishops' Wars
The Bishops' Wars , were conflicts, both political and military, which occurred in 1639 and 1640 centred around the nature of the governance of the Church of Scotland, and the rights and powers of the Crown...

. In the ensuing civil wars, the Scots Covenanters at one point made common cause with the English parliamentarians - resulting in the Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...

 being agreed by both. Ironically, this document remains the subordinate standard of the Church of Scotland, but was replaced in England after the Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

.

Episcopacy was reintroduced to Scotland after the Restoration, the cause of considerable discontent, especially in the south-west of the country, where the Presbyterian tradition was strongest. The modern situation largely dates from 1690, when after the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 the majority of Scottish bishops were non-jurors
Nonjuring schism
The nonjuring schism was a split in the Church of England in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, over whether William of Orange and his wife Mary could legally be recognised as King and Queen of England....

, and in response Presbyterian government was guaranteed by law, excluding what became the Scottish Episcopal Church
Scottish Episcopal Church
The Scottish Episcopal Church is a Christian church in Scotland, consisting of seven dioceses. Since the 17th century, it has had an identity distinct from the presbyterian Church of Scotland....

.

Controversy still surrounded the relationship between the Church of Scotland's independence and the civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 of Scotland. The interference of civil courts with Church decisions, particularly over the right to appoint ministers, led to a number of groups seceding. This began with the secession of 1733
First Secession
The First Secession was an exodus of ministers and members from the Church of Scotland in 1733. Those who took part formed the Associate Presbytery and later the United Secession Church....

 and culminating in the Disruption of 1843
Disruption of 1843
The Disruption of 1843 was a schism within the established Church of Scotland, in which 450 ministers of the Church broke away, over the issue of the Church's relationship with the State, to form the Free Church of Scotland...

, when a large portion of the Church broke away to form the Free Church of Scotland
Free Church of Scotland (1843-1900)
The Free Church of Scotland is a Scottish denomination which was formed in 1843 by a large withdrawal from the established Church of Scotland in a schism known as the "Disruption of 1843"...

. The seceding groups tended to divide and reunite among themselves — leading to a proliferation of Presbyterian denominations in Scotland.

However, in the 1920s, the British Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 passed the Church of Scotland Act 1921
Church of Scotland Act 1921
The Church of Scotland Act 1921 is an Act of the British Parliament, passed in 1921. The purpose of the Act was to settle centuries of dispute between the British Parliament and the Church of Scotland over the Church's independence in spiritual matters...

, finally recognising the full independence of the Church in matters spiritual, and as a result of this, and passage of the Church of Scotland (Property and Endowments) Act, 1925, the Kirk was able to unite with the United Free Church of Scotland in 1929. The United Free Church of Scotland was itself the product of the union of the former United Presbyterian Church of Scotland
United Presbyterian Church of Scotland
The United Presbyterian Church of Scotland was a Scottish Presbyterian denomination. It was formed in 1847 by the union of the United Secession Church and the Relief Church, and in 1900 merged with the Free Church of Scotland to form the United Free Church of Scotland, which in turn united with...

 and the majority of the Free Church of Scotland in 1900.

Some independent Scottish Presbyterian denominations still remain. These include the Free Church of Scotland
Free Church of Scotland (post 1900)
Free Church of Scotland is that part of the original Free Church of Scotland that remained outside of the union with the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1900...

 (formed of those congregations which refused to unite with the United Presbyterian Church
United Presbyterian Church of Scotland
The United Presbyterian Church of Scotland was a Scottish Presbyterian denomination. It was formed in 1847 by the union of the United Secession Church and the Relief Church, and in 1900 merged with the Free Church of Scotland to form the United Free Church of Scotland, which in turn united with...

 in 1900), the United Free Church of Scotland
United Free Church of Scotland
The United Free Church of Scotland is a Scottish Presbyterian denomination formed in 1900 by the union of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland...

 (formed of congregations which refused to unite with the Church of Scotland in 1929), the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland was formed in 1893 and claims to be the spiritual descendant of the Scottish Reformation...

 (which broke from the Free Church of Scotland in 1893), the Associated Presbyterian Churches
Associated Presbyterian Churches
The Associated Presbyterian Churches is a Scottish Christian denomination , formed in 1989 from part of the community of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland....

 (which emerged as a result of a split in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in the 1980s) and the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
The Free Church of Scotland is a Scottish Presbyterian denomination which was formed in January 2000...

 (which emerged from a split in the Free Church of Scotland in 2000).

The motto of the Church of Scotland is nec tamen consumebatur (Latin) - 'Yet it was not consumed', an allusion to Exodus 3:2 and the Burning Bush
Burning bush
The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus as being located on Mount Sinai; according to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name...

.

Theology and practice

The basis of faith for the Church of Scotland is the Word of God, which it views as being ‘contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament’. Its principal subordinate standard is The Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...

(1647), although here liberty of opinion is granted on those matters ‘which do not enter into the substance of the faith’ (Art. 2 and 5).

The Church of Scotland has no compulsory prayer book although it does have a hymn book
Hymnbooks of the Church of Scotland
Decisions concerning the conduct of public worship in the Church of Scotland are entirely at the discretion of the parish minister. As a result, a wide variety of musical resources are used...

 (the 4th edition was published in 2005) and its Book of Common Order
Book of Common Order
-Genevan Book of Order:The Genevan Book of Order, sometimes called The Order of Geneva or Knox's Liturgy, is a directory for public worship in the Reformed Church of Scotland. In 1557 the Scottish Protestant lords in council enjoined the use of the English Common Prayer, i.e. the Second Book of...

contains recommendations for public worship which are usually followed fairly closely in the case of sacraments and ordinances. Preaching is the central focus of most services. Traditionally, Scots worship centred on the singing of metrical psalm
Metrical psalter
A metrical psalter is a kind of Bible translation: a book containing a metrical translation of all or part of the Book of Psalms in vernacular poetry, meant to be sung as hymns in a church. Some metrical psalters include melodies or even harmonizations...

s and paraphrases, but for generations these have been supplemented with Christian music
Christian music
Christian music is music that has been written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life and faith. Common themes of Christian music include praise, worship, penitence, and lament, and its forms vary widely across the world....

 of all types. The typical Church of Scotland service lasts about an hour, and has been characterised jokingly as a hymn-prayer sandwich, in which everything leads up to a climax in a 15-minute sermon near the end. There is normally no sung or responsive liturgy. However, worship is the responsibility of the minister in each parish, and the style of worship can vary and be quite experimental. In recent years, a variety of modern song books have been widely used in order to appeal more to contemporary trends in music, and elements from alternative liturgies including those of the Iona Community
Iona Community
The Iona Community, founded in 1938 by the Rev George MacLeod, is an ecumenical Christian community of men and women from different walks of life and different traditions in the Christian church....

 are incorporated in some congregations. Although traditionally worship is conducted by the parish minister, participation and leadership by members who are not ministers in services is becoming more frequent, especially in the Highlands and the Borders.

In common with other Protestant denominations, the Church recognises two sacraments: Baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 and Holy Communion (the Lord's Supper
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

). The Church baptises both believing adults and the children of Christian families. Communion in the Church of Scotland today is open to Christians of whatever denomination, without precondition. Communion services are usually taken fairly seriously in the Church; traditionally, a congregation held only three or four per year, although practice now greatly varies between congregations. In some congregations communion is celebrated once a month.

Theologically, the Church of Scotland is Reformed (ultimately in the Calvinist tradition) and is a member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches
World Alliance of Reformed Churches
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches is a fellowship of more than 200 churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation, and particularly in the theology of John Calvin...

. However, its longstanding decision to respect "liberty of opinion on matters not affecting the substance of the faith", means it is relatively tolerant of a variety of theological positions, including those who would term themselves conservative and liberal in their doctrine, ethics and interpretation of Scripture. (The 19th century Scottish distinction was between 'evangelicals' and 'moderates
Moderate Party (Scotland)
Moderates, in church terms is, normally, though not exclusively, used to refer to an important party of clerics in the Church of Scotland during the 18th century. They are often contrasted with Evangelicals, though this is very much a simplification...

'.) This is not quite the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 concept of a ‘broad church
Broad church
Broad church is a term referring to latitudinarian churchmanship in the Church of England, in particular, and Anglicanism, in general. From this, the term is often used to refer to secular political organisations, meaning that they encompass a broad range of opinion.-Usage:After the terms high...

’, but in practice it comes close to it.

The Church of Scotland is a member of ACTS (Action of Churches Together in Scotland
Action of Churches Together in Scotland
Action of Churches Together in Scotland is a national ecumenical organisation of churches in Scotland, founded in 1990. It is the successor to the former Scottish Council of Churches...

) and, through its Committee on Ecumenical Relations, works closely with other denominations in Scotland. The present inter-denominational cooperation marks a distinct change from attitudes in certain quarters of the Church in the early twentieth century and before, when opposition to Irish Roman Catholic immigration was vocal (see Catholicism in Scotland
Roman Catholicism in Scotland
Roman Catholicism in Scotland , overseen by the Scottish Bishops' Conference, is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, the Christian Church in full communion with the Pope, currently Pope Benedict XVI. After being firmly established in Scotland for a millennium, Catholicism was outlawed following...

). The Church of Scotland is a member of the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

 and the Conference of European Churches
Conference of European Churches
The Conference of European Churches was founded in 1959 to promote reconciliation, dialogue and friendship between the churches of Europe at a time of growing Cold War political tensions and divisions. It is an ecumenical fellowship of Christian churches in Europe; its membership consists of most...

. The Church of Scotland continues to foster relationships with other Presbyterian denominations in Scotland even where agreement is difficult.

God's Invitation

While the Bible is the basis of faith of the Church of Scotland, and the Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...

 is the subordinate standard, a request was presented to a General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for a statement explaining the historic Christian faith in jargon
Jargon
Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, group, or event. The philosophe Condillac observed in 1782 that "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he...

-free non-theological language. "God's Invitation" was prepared to fulfil that request. The full statement reads:
God made the world and all its creatures with men and women made in His image.
By breaking His laws people have broken contact with God, and damaged His good world. This we see and sense in the world and in ourselves.
The Bible tells us the Good News that God still loves us and has shown His love uniquely in His Son
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

. He lived among us
Incarnation (Christianity)
The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos , "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos .The Incarnation is a fundamental theological...

 and died on the cross
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

 to save us from our sin. But God raised Him from the dead
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

!
In His love, this living Jesus invites us to turn from our sins
Repentance
Repentance is a change of thought to correct a wrong and gain forgiveness from a person who is wronged. In religious contexts it usually refers to confession to God, ceasing sin against God, and resolving to live according to religious law...

 and enter by faith
Faith in Christianity
Faith, in Christianity, has been most commonly defined by the biblical formulation in the Letter to the Hebrews as "'the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most of the definitions in the history of Christian theology have followed this biblical formulation...

 into a restored relationship
Reconciliation (theology)
Reconciliation, a theological term, is an element of salvation that refers to the results of atonement. Reconciliation as a theological concept describes the end of the estrangement, caused by sin, between God and humanity. John Calvin describes reconciliation as the peace between humanity and...

 with God Who gives true life before
Abundant life
Abundant life is a term used to refer to Christian teachings on fullness of life. It is not an organized movement or a unique doctrine, but a name applied to the teachings and expectations of the groups and people who follow the teachings...

 and beyond death
Eternal life (Christianity)
In Christianity the term eternal life traditionally refers to continued life after death, rather than immortality. While scholars such as John H. Leith assert that...

.
Then, with the power of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 remaking us like Jesus, we – with all Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s – worship
Christian worship
In Christianity, worship is adoration and contemplation of God.-Overview:Throughout most of Christianity's history, corporate Christian worship has been primarily liturgical, characterized by prayers and hymns, with texts rooted in, or closely related to, the Scripture, particularly the Psalter;...

 God, enjoy His friendship and are available for Him to use in sharing and showing
Good works
Good works, or simply works, within Christian theology are a person's actions or deeds, contrasting with interior qualities such as grace or faith.The New Testament exhibits a tension between two aspects of grace:...

 His love, justice, and peace locally and globally until Jesus returns!
In Jesus’ name we gladly share with you God's message for all people – You matter to God!

It was approved for use by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May 1992.

Current issues

The Church of Scotland faces many current difficulties. Since the 1950s its membership has continued to decline, now being less than half what it was then. In 2008, membership dropped below 500,000. The Church faces a £5.7 million deficit, and the costly upkeep of many older ecclesiastical buildings. In response the church has decided to 'prune to grow', reducing ministry provision plans from 1234 to 1000 funded posts (1075 established FTE posts, of which 75 will be vacant at any one time) supported by a variety of voluntary and part time ministries. At the same time the number of candidates accepted for full time ministry has reduced from 24 (2005) to 8 (2009), threatening viability of the Kirk's theological training colleges.

Since the Reformation, one of the church’s tenets has been ecclesia reformata semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei – a "church which is reformed must always be reformed according to the Word of God". Recently, the General Assembly produced its "Church without Walls" report (2001) which embodies an ethos of change, and a focus on the grassroots life of the Church rather than its institutions.

The membership of the Church of Scotland is also aging, and it has struggled to maintain its relevance to the younger generations. The Church has made attempts to address their problems, at both a congregational and national level. The annual National Youth Assembly and the presence of youth delegates at the General Assembly have served as a visible reminder of the Church’s commitment. The Church's National Youth Assembly
National Youth Assembly
The National Youth Assembly, often shortened to NYA, is a gathering of young people aged between 16 and 25 within the Church of Scotland. The event is run by the Mission & Discipleship Council of the Church. It is usually held during the first weekend of September and has been held in various...

 has grown in prominence and attendance in recent years.

Since as early as 1968, all ministries and offices in the church have been open to women and men on an equal basis. However, it was not until 2004 that a woman was chosen to be Moderator of the General Assembly. Alison Elliot
Alison Elliot
Alison Elliot 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...

 was also the first non-minister to be chosen since George Buchanan
George Buchanan (humanist)
George Buchanan was a Scottish historian and humanist scholar. He was part of the Monarchomach movement.-Early life:...

, four centuries before. In May 2007 the Rev Sheilagh M. Kesting
Sheilagh M. Kesting
Sheilagh Kesting is a Scottish minister and the first female minister to be elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland...

 became the first female minister to be Moderator.

There is a division in the Church of Scotland on how the issues surrounding homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 should be addressed. While the church has traditionally adopted a "hate the sin but love the sinner" approach, in recent years some within the church have pushed for actual homosexual behaviour to be accepted as not sinful. This division of approach is illustrated by widespread opposition to an attempt to install as minister an openly homosexual man who intends to live with his partner once appointed to his post.
In a landmark decision, the General Assembly voted on 23 May 2009 by 326 to 267 to ratify the appointment of the Reverend Scott Rennie, the Kirk's first openly "practising" homosexual minster. The decision was reached on the basis the Presbytery had followed the correct procedure. Rennie had won the overwhelming support of his prospective church members at Queen's Cross, Aberdeen, but his appointment was in some doubt until extensive debate and this vote by the Commissioners to the Assembly. The General Assembly later agreed upon a moratorium on the appointment of further "practising" homosexuals until after a special commission has reported on the matter. (See: Ordination of homosexuals) As a result of these developments, a new grouping of congregations within the Church was begun "to declare their clear commitment to historic Christian orthodoxy", known as the Fellowship of Confessing Churches
Fellowship of Confessing Churches
The Fellowship of Confessing Churches is a fellowship of congregations of the Church of Scotland that was formed in April 2009 in response to the decision of the General Assembly to uphold the ordination of Scott Rennie, a minister who was in a homosexual relationship, in order to declare their...

. In May 2011, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted to appoint a theological commission, with a view to permitting practicing homosexuals to be ordained as ministers. The theological commission will report to the General Assembly of 2013. Meanwhile, openly homosexual ministers ordained before 2009 will be allowed to keep their posts without fear of sanction.
This currently is the source of strain between the traditionally "liberal" and "evangelical" members of the Kirk. Many Evangelicals are challenged by the present situation but feel called to remain within the Kirk.

Life issues

The Church of Scotland is pro-life
Pro-life
Opposition to the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-life, or anti-abortion, movement, a social and political movement opposing elective abortion on moral grounds and supporting its legal prohibition or restriction...

 on abortion, stating that it should be allowed "only on grounds that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve serious risk to the life or grave injury to the health, whether physical or mental, of the pregnant woman."

The Church of Scotland also opposes euthanasia
Euthanasia
Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering....

: "The General Assembly has consistently stated that: 'the Christian recognises no right to dispose of his own life even although he may regard those who commit or may attempt to commit suicide with compassion and understanding rather than condemnation'. The Church has frequently stressed its opposition to various attempts to introduce legislation to permit euthanasia, even under strictly controlled circumstances as incompatible with Christianity." The Church is associated with the Care no Killing organization in "Promoting more and better palliative care./ Ensuring that existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are not weakened or repealed during the lifetime of the current Parliament./ Influencing the balance of public opinion further against any weakening of the law."

The Kirk strongly disapproves the death penalty: "The Church of Scotland affirms that capital punishment is always and wholly unacceptable and does not provide an answer even to the most heinous of crimes. It commits itself to working with other churches and agencies to advance this understanding, oppose death sentences and executions and promote the cause of abolition of the death penalty worldwide."

Publications

The following publications are useful sources of information about the Church of Scotland.
  • Life and Work - the monthly magazine of the Church of Scotland.
  • Church of Scotland Yearbook
    Church of Scotland Yearbook
    The Church of Scotland Yearbook is a collection of statistical data published annually by the Church of Scotland....

    (known as "the red book") - published annually with statistical data
    Statistics
    Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

     on every parish and contact information for every minister.
  • Reports to the General Assembly (known as "the blue book") - published annually with reports on the work of the church's departments.
  • The Constitution and Laws of the Church of Scotland (known as "the green book") edited by the Very Rev Dr James L. Weatherhead
    James Weatherhead
    James L. Weatherhead is a retired minister of the Church of Scotland. He was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1993-1994.-Background and career:James Leslie Weatherhead was born in Dundee in 1931...

    , published 1997 by the Church of Scotland, ISBN 0-86153-246-5

and which has now replaced the venerable
  • Practice and Procedure in The Church of Scotland edited by the late Rev. James Taylor Cox, D.D. published by The Committee on General Administration, The Church of Scotland, 1976 (sixth edition) ISBN 0-7152-0326-6
  • Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae
    Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae
    Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae is a title given to books containing lists of ministers from the Church of Scotland. The original volumes covered all ministers of the Established Church of Scotland...

    - published irregularly since 1866, contains biographies of ministers.
  • The First and Second Books of Discipline of 1560 and 1578.
  • The Book of Common Order
    Book of Common Order
    -Genevan Book of Order:The Genevan Book of Order, sometimes called The Order of Geneva or Knox's Liturgy, is a directory for public worship in the Reformed Church of Scotland. In 1557 the Scottish Protestant lords in council enjoined the use of the English Common Prayer, i.e. the Second Book of...

     latest version of 1994.

See also

History and concepts
  • Presbyterianism
    Presbyterianism
    Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

  • Church of Scotland Guild
    Church of Scotland Guild
    The Church of Scotland Guild or simply The Guild , is a movement within the Church of Scotland....

  • Disruption of 1843
    Disruption of 1843
    The Disruption of 1843 was a schism within the established Church of Scotland, in which 450 ministers of the Church broke away, over the issue of the Church's relationship with the State, to form the Free Church of Scotland...


  • Kirk
    Kirk
    Kirk can mean "church" in general or the Church of Scotland in particular. Many place names and personal names are also derived from it.-Basic meaning and etymology:...

  • Marrow Controversy
    Marrow Controversy
    The Marrow Controversy was a Scottish ecclesiastical dispute occasioned by the republication in 1718 of The Marrow of Modern Divinity The Marrow Controversy was a Scottish ecclesiastical dispute occasioned by the republication in 1718 of The Marrow of Modern Divinity The Marrow Controversy was a...

  • Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom and the states that pre-dated the UK, was dominated by forms of Christianity for over 1,400 years. Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys, regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century,...


Ministry and congregations

  • Presbytery of Europe
    Presbytery of Europe
    The Presbytery of Europe covers the Church of Scotland's congregations in continental Europe.As a Presbyterian church, the Church of Scotland has no bishops. Instead courts of ministers, elders and deacons have collective responsibility for the governance of the church...

  • Scottish Churches Industrial Mission
    Scottish Churches Industrial Mission
    The Scottish Churches Industrial Mission is an ecumenical action of Scotland’s Churches engaging with working life in Scotland. It has three aims:...


Organisation
  • General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
    General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
    The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the sovereign and highest court of the Church of Scotland, and is thus the Church's governing body[1] An Introduction to Practice and Procedure in the Church of Scotland, A Gordon McGillivray, 2nd Edition .-Church courts:As a Presbyterian church,...

  • List of Presbyteries and (former) Synods
  • Ministers and elders in the Church of Scotland
    Ministers and elders in the Church of Scotland
    A Church of Scotland congregation is led by its minister and elders. Both of these terms are also used in other Christian denominations: see Minister and Elder...


  • Moderators and clerks in the Church of Scotland
    Moderators and clerks in the Church of Scotland
    The Church of Scotland maintains a presbyterian polity and is thus governed by a hierarchy of bodies known as church courts. Each of these courts has a moderator and a clerk.-Moderators:...

  • Moderator of the General Assembly
    Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
    The Moderator of the General Assembly of Church of Scotland is a Minister, Elder or Deacon of the Church of Scotland chosen to "moderate" the annual General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which is held for a week in Edinburgh every May....

  • List of former Moderators
  • Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly
    Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
    The Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the British Sovereign's personal representative to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland , reflecting the Church's role as the national church of Scotland, and the Sovereign's role as protector and member of...


Documents and resources
  • Articles Declaratory
    Articles Declaratory of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland
    The Articles Declaratory of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland – often known as the Declaratory Articles - were drawn up early in the 20th century to facilitate the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland...

  • Book of Common Order
    Book of Common Order
    -Genevan Book of Order:The Genevan Book of Order, sometimes called The Order of Geneva or Knox's Liturgy, is a directory for public worship in the Reformed Church of Scotland. In 1557 the Scottish Protestant lords in council enjoined the use of the English Common Prayer, i.e. the Second Book of...

  • Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae
    Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae
    Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae is a title given to books containing lists of ministers from the Church of Scotland. The original volumes covered all ministers of the Established Church of Scotland...


  • Hymnbooks of the Church of Scotland
    Hymnbooks of the Church of Scotland
    Decisions concerning the conduct of public worship in the Church of Scotland are entirely at the discretion of the parish minister. As a result, a wide variety of musical resources are used...

  • Life and Work
  • Westminster Confession of Faith
    Westminster Confession of Faith
    The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...


Issues
  • Bishops in the Church of Scotland
    Bishops in the Church of Scotland
    There have not been bishops in the Church of Scotland since the 17th century, although there have occasionally been attempts to reintroduce episcopalianism....


  • Ordination of women in the Church of Scotland
    Ordination of women in the Church of Scotland
    The Church of Scotland was one of the first national churches to accept the ordination of women. In Presbyterianism, ordination is understood to be an ordinance rather than a sacrament; ministers and elders are ordained; until recently deacons were "commissioned" but now they too are ordained to...


Bodies to which the Church of Scotland is affiliated
  • Action of Churches Together in Scotland
    Action of Churches Together in Scotland
    Action of Churches Together in Scotland is a national ecumenical organisation of churches in Scotland, founded in 1990. It is the successor to the former Scottish Council of Churches...

  • Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
    Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
    Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is an ecumenical organisation. The members include most of the major churches in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. It was formerly known as the Council of Churches of Britain and Ireland...

  • Conference of European Churches
    Conference of European Churches
    The Conference of European Churches was founded in 1959 to promote reconciliation, dialogue and friendship between the churches of Europe at a time of growing Cold War political tensions and divisions. It is an ecumenical fellowship of Christian churches in Europe; its membership consists of most...


  • Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (Leuenberg Church Fellowship)
    Community of Protestant Churches in Europe
    The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe is a fellowship of over 100 Protestant churches which have signed the Leuenberg Agreement. Together they strive for realizing church fellowship, especially by cooperation in witness and service to the world...

  • World Council of Churches
    World Council of Churches
    The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

  • World Communion of Reformed Churches
    World Communion of Reformed Churches
    The World Communion of Reformed Churches is an ecumenical Christian body formed in June 2010 by the union of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council...


Other bodies
  • Iona Community
    Iona Community
    The Iona Community, founded in 1938 by the Rev George MacLeod, is an ecumenical Christian community of men and women from different walks of life and different traditions in the Christian church....

  • Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
    Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
    The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office was created in 1999, at the same time as the devolved Scottish Parliament was established. The office is an ecumenical one, including all the member churches of Action of Churches Together in Scotland plus some others.The office represents the interests...


  • Society, Religion and Technology Project
    Society, Religion and Technology Project
    The Society, Religion and Technology Project - or SRT Project for short - was begun by the Church of Scotland in 1970 to address issues being raised by the impact of modern technology...


Legislation
  • Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Act 1707
    Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Act 1707
    The Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Act 1707 is an Act of the pre-Union Parliament of Scotland which was passed to ensure that the status of the Church of Scotland would not be affected by the Union with England...


  • Church of Scotland Act 1921
    Church of Scotland Act 1921
    The Church of Scotland Act 1921 is an Act of the British Parliament, passed in 1921. The purpose of the Act was to settle centuries of dispute between the British Parliament and the Church of Scotland over the Church's independence in spiritual matters...



External links

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