Did you know that a third of our planet’s population identify themselves as Christians? Most Christians join together in local groups to worship and do other things together – in our part of the world we use words like “church” and “congregation” to identify these groups. Most local groups are linked together into larger bodies – we call them “denominations”.
We at St Andrew’s are part of the denomination known as the Church of Scotland, which in turn is part of a world-wide group of churches which call themselves Presbyterian churches.
|What does it mean to be “Presbyterian”?||It’s about to the way the church is organised in order to do the things God wants us to do. We’re different from “Episcopalian” or “Anglican” churches – they get together in groups called called a diocese, each run by a bishop. We’re also different from “Congregational” churches – they relate in loose networks but basically they manage themselves and ‘go it alone’. Presbyterian congregations get together in groups called Presbyteries – St Andrew’s is part of the Angus Presbytery.|
|How does a Presbytery work?||The Presbytery is a group made up of ministers and elders from every congregation in the area. It meets every few months to oversee the work of the churches in the area and to plan activities that we can do together: like sending a work party to help with development projects in Bangladesh, or bringing people from different churches together for a worship or learning event.
Ministers of congregations are responsible to the Presbytery and the Presbytery makes sure that congregations are following the proper procedures of the Church of Scotland. A team from the Presbytery visits each congregation once every five years to see if the congregation is in good order and in good heart. The team encourages the congregation and helps them to find the best way forward to do God’s work in their community.
|Do all the Presbyteries ever get together?||Yes, once a year all the Presbyteries send their representatives to the General Assembly (called the Assembly for short).|
|What does the General Assembly do?||It meets in Edinburgh for a week in May and works on the “big picture” questions and issues for the whole Church of Scotland. Every member of the Assembly has one vote and has an equal right to speak – and there is a lot of speaking that week!|
|Who runs the Assembly?||The Assembly appoints a Moderator each year, who presides over the Assembly meeting and then spends the rest of their time in office visiting Church of Scotland congregations, Presbyteries and projects near and far, and representing the Church of Scotland on official occasions like the opening of Parliament.|
|So the Moderator is like the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury?||Not at all! The Moderator isn’t in charge of the church – it’s the Assembly that seeks God’s guidance to make decisions about how the Church of Scotland is run and what it does. Each Moderator only serves for one year, and the Moderator doesn’t have to be a minister – elders can be appointed as Moderator too.|
Visit the Church of Scotland website