We seek to reach out to others, because God first reached out to us.
We realise that we are never going to be perfect in this. Our motives can always be distorted by
sub-conscious self interest, fear, envy and even greed and pride. But we hope that if we can grow closer to God, that will change us over the years to be closer to the way God is, the way God acts and feels. That is why worship is important to us. If we meet together in community then there is a greater chance that our opinions, ideas, even theologies will be touched and affected by the rest of the community. We will benefit from the support and the encouragement of the community.
We realise that if we do faith 'on our own' then we isolate ourselves from the affects of others and our world becomes so much smaller. Not only do we cut ourselves off from others support, we cut ourselves off from others needs.
It is hard to be a light of the world, the way Jesus asked us to be, if we are hiding ourselves away from the darkness of others.
It is hard to feel the light of hope in our darkness, if we cut ourselves off from the light of God shown in others.
We are all on a journey of faith, we haven't reached the destination yet, but we are hoping to be heading in the right direction. We realise that the journey is a lot easier if we do it together.
Central to the Church of Scotland is our love and worship of God through following the teachings and examples of Jesus Christ. We express our love for God by our love and practical care for each other and for those we live with and encounter in our daily lives. Church of Scotland parish churches play a crucial part across a range of communities, from remote villages to deprived urban areas where shops, banks, schools and other institutions have disappeared. Pastoral care of parishioners is an essential part of Christ's calling to the Church, particularly in times of need. As part of their caring task, local churches also aim to resource and run projects relating to groups such as asylum seekers and unemployed people.
The Apostles' Creed
The Church of Scotland believes in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and proclaims Jesus Christ crucified, risen and glorified.
Our standards of belief are to be found in the Old and New Testament (the Bible) and in the Church's historic Confession of Faith. For a brief summary of our beliefs, it is useful to look at the Apostles' Creed, which is used by many churches in declaring Christian faith:
"I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell.
"The third day he rose again from the dead, he ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
"I believe in
The Holy Ghost;
The Holy Catholic Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of Sins;
The Resurrection of the Body;
and the Life Everlasting."
At the heart of the faith of the Church of Scotland is the love and following of our Lord God through his son, Jesus Christ. But who is the real Jesus?
The Bible and Jesus
There are those who speak of Jesus the political revolutionary, the religious guru, the mystic, the faith healer, the hypnotist, an occultist, a magician.
The Gospels, which are books in the Bible, clearly teach that Jesus was no ordinary man, but was in fact God in human form. The Gospel writers wanted their readers to understand that coming to know this Jesus was the ultimate life changing experience.
In the Bible, each of the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and in fact the entire Bible, point towards God interacting with us. They reveal a Jesus who came to bring a new kind of life, an exciting dynamic kind of life that brought with it intimacy and peace with God through having our sins forgiven and receiving a transformed heart and soul.
The Resurrection of Jesus
The death and resurrection of Jesus, when he rose to heaven from the grave, sum up the most important moments in the Gospels as it allows people to come to terms with their own sin, God’s love for them and to seek his forgiveness, trust in him and understand what it means to believe in him and follow him.
It is not an easy step to take; to admit that you have sinned, to realise that Jesus was crucified for your sin and to seek his forgiveness is possibly one of the most difficult steps you will ever take, but it is undoubtedly the most important one which leads to a new and transformed life. For those who do take this step of faith they find and sense the power of God at work in their lives and are never the same again.
One of the most dramatic stories in the New Testament is found at the end of Luke’s Gospel. It tells of two of Jesus' first followers who were devastated by his death.
As they walked home on Easter Sunday afternoon Jesus walked along side them but they did not recognise him. In the course of their conversation Jesus explained who he was and introduced them to the Old Testament stories which pointed towards the significance of his own life. At the end of the story when they finally realise who he is and recognise him, they say they sum up their own experience by saying: "did not our hearts burn within us, when he talked to us."
Today, 21 centuries after his death, there is never a single moment in which less than several million people are reading what Jesus said and did and trying to apply the significance of his words and actions to their lives. Jesus said: "I have come to bring you life and life to the full" and the Gospels teach that a relationship with God is the most exciting kind of life that can ever be experienced. To know the purposeful hand of God in your life, to know His touch and forgiveness leads not only to purpose and meaning in life but peace with God and fulfillment in Him. For these reasons, the story of Jesus is still relevant for today.
Find out more
Through reading the Bible and attending church services you can discover that Jesus transforms the lives of individual people from within, and they come to the point of trusting him with their lives and recognising that they need his transforming love and forgiveness for their sins and then be willing to follow him the rest of their days.
How We are Organised
The Church of Scotland's governing system is Presbyterian which means that no one person or group within the Church has more influence or say than any other. The Church does not have one person who acts as the head of faith, as that role is the Lord God's. Its supreme rule of faith and life is through the teachings of the Bible.
Church of Scotland government is organised on the basis of courts, mainly along lines set between 1560 and 1690. Each of these courts has committees, which may include other members of the Church, and at national level employ full-time staff. Our councils and committee pages include more about their work and remit.
At a local level, the parish, the court is a kirk session. Kirk sessions oversee the local congregation and its parish, and consist of elders presided over by a minister.
At district level, the court is a presbytery. Presbyteries consist of all the ministers in the district and an equal number of elders, along with members of the diaconate (a form of ordained ministry, usually working in a complementary role in a ministry team in both parish and industry sector contexts). There are 46 presbyteries across Scotland, England, Europe and Jerusalem.
At national level, the court is the highest court of the Kirk, the General Assembly. The General Assembly consists of around 400 ministers, 400 elders, and members of the diaconate, all representing the presbyteries. Visit our General Assembly page for more information about how it functions.
The Kirk and the State
The Queen is not the supreme governor of the Church of Scotland, as she is in the Church of England. The sovereign has the right to attend the General Assembly, but not to take part in its deliberations. The Oath of Accession includes a promise to "maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government".
The Queen maintains warm relations with the Church of Scotland, where she worships when in Scotland, and from which the chaplains of the Royal Household in Scotland are appointed.
The Church of Scotland (the Kirk) is not State-controlled, and neither the Scottish nor the Westminster Parliaments are involved in Kirk appointments.
The Kirk’s status as the national Church in Scotland dates from 1690, when Parliament restored Scottish Presbyterianism, and is guaranteed under the Act of Union of Scotland and England of 1707.
In matters of doctrine, government, discipline and worship, the Church of Scotland is free of State interference, operating under a constitution largely contained in the Articles Declaratory which were recognised by Parliament in 1921. Our Church law pages include more information and the acts and regulations of the General Assembly since 1929.