Our church is governed by ministers and ruling elders meeting in courts, with the local courts subordinate to the more extensive courts as in Acts Chapter 15. All office-bearers are male and the courts are structured as follows:
- Kirk Session – overseeing the local congregation and consisting of the minister and elders of the congregation.
- Presbytery – overseeing the congregations in a district and consisting of all the ministers of the congregations within its bounds (including retired ministers) and a representative elder from each of the congregations.
- Synod – overseeing the presbyteries in a particular area and consisting of all the ministers and elders of the presbyteries within its bounds.
- General Assembly – overseeing the whole church and consisting of all the ministers and elders of all the presbyteries.
The presbytery is the fundamental or ‘radical’ court in the system. Its functions include the examination and licensing of candidates for the ministry and the ordination and discipline of ministers.
Following a reorganisation in 2008 our church has five Presbyteries arranged into two Synods in Scotland and one active Presbytery in North America. Each Presbytery and Synod has a Clerk who is responsible for the maintenance of records and correspondence. The General Assembly has a Principal Clerk and an Assistant Clerk.
By an Act of the 2015 General Assembly Synods are no longer required to meet on the stated dates of their Ordinary Meetings, although they continue to maintain their functions as courts to hear and dispose of Complaints, Appeals, References, Petitions and Overtures from the inferior courts.
The most important thing about any church is where it stands on the gospel of Jesus Christ. What is the gospel or 'good news' we proclaim?
The Bible teaches us that there is a God with whom we all have to do. God is a spirit, pure and holy, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being. He created all things by His mighty power, making this world and everything in it. He made man in His own image and likeness to glorify and enjoy Him. We are dependent upon our Creator for all things and we can only be truly content in knowing Him.
The Bible reveals how the devil tempted our first parents to sin against God, resulting in the fall and our separation from God. Adam was the head of the whole human race and so we all sinned in him and fell with him. We deserve to be punished in hell for our sins and we cannot deliver ourselves.
The Bible declares that God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to become man and save sinners. The gospel is the wonderful account of what Christ has done to restore us to fellowship with God. He lovingly took the place of the guilty, keeping God's law perfectly and dying on a cross at Calvary. Having been punished for the sins of His people He rose again for their justification.
In the gospel Christ's salvation is offered freely to sinners. In order to be saved we must repent of our sins and believe in Christ for righteousness. Then we shall have eternal life and enjoy a place in heaven when we die.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” – John 3:16.