The Free Church of Scotland
The Free Church of Scotland is a mainstream church dating from 1843 with its roots in the Reformation. It owes its distinctive title to its historical struggle to remain ‘free’ from state interference in its internal affairs.
It has close and active relations with many other Reformed churches of Jesus Christ throughout the world and stands firmly in the tradition which accepts the Bible in its entirety as the Word of God and, therefore, derives its forms of teaching, worship, ministry and government from it.
How does the Free Church worship?
The worship of the church follows the New Testament model and is characterised by simplicity.
Because of the fundamental importance of God’s Word, primary place is given in worship to the reading and preaching of it.
The congregation responds to these first by hearing and then by offering itself to God in the other acts of worship which are prayer, the singing of inspired songs and the giving of offerings. The worship is concluded with the benediction. The Lord’s Supper is held on a regular basis, although not weekly, and baptism is also administered as needed.
How is the Free Church governed?
The government of the church also follows the New testament model and is simply structured with only two kinds of officer: elders and deacons. Of these two, the higher office is that of the elder and, because the church is ruled by elders, it belongs to the family of churches known as ‘presbyterian’ – a term derived from the Greek word for ‘elder’.
Elders are a group of rulers elected by each organised group of worshipping people (congregation) to oversee the spiritual welfare of the congregation. This group will include at least one ruler specially trained and set apart to teach (the minister). As a formal body, they are known as the Kirk Session (or, simply, the Session). In the Presbyterian system, every Session is represented in a superior court (the Presbytery) which consists of a certain number of congregations within a specified geographical boundary. Each presbytery is then represented in the highest court of the church, the General Assembly.
Deacons are individuals elected to take care of the material and financial concerns of the congregation and, as a formal body, they are referred to as the Deacons’ Court.
The Free Church of Scotland currently has over 140 congregations in Scotland, as well as five in North America. The Church also has a full time college in the heart of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Theological Seminary (ETS) for the training of Ministers and other Christian workers and sustains an extensive missionary programme.