The Kirk Session
The Kirk Session
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.
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