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Religion and National IdentityGoverning Scottish Presbyterianism in the Eighteenth Century$
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Alistair Mutch

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699155

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699155.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

The Kirk Session

The Kirk Session

(p.78) Chapter 4 The Kirk Session
Religion and National Identity

Alistair Mutch

Edinburgh University Press

The kirk session was the fundamental building block of the governance structure of the Church of Scotland. It was always chaired by the minister as its moderator. The nature of the ministerial cadre is considered, with a focus on long service in the parish and educational backgrounds. Many of them spent time as village schoolmasters before they were ordained to a parish, and their important role as session clerks is outlined. Ministers were supported by a number of elders, and the recruitment and conduct of these is considered through a detailed examination of practice in a number of parishes. The ecclesiology of the Church of Scotland suggested the importance of deacons in dealing with the responsibility of the session for poor relief, but practice suggests that most parishes combined that office with that of the elder. The life of the session is illustrated, with a particular focus on the distinctive nature of the Scottish communion season. With communion generally only taken once a year and restricted to those found to be suitable, sessions evolved record keeping systems using rolls of communicants and a distinctive artefact, the communion token.

Keywords:   Church of Scotland, Kirk session, Minister, Elders, Deacons, Communion, Tokens

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