What is... the kirk session

In the first of a series looking at various aspects of the Free Church we are going to consider what the Kirk Session is and what it does.  The Kirk Session is the lowest of, what is known as, the courts of the church - Kirk Session, Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly. (The Deacons’ Court is actually not a court, is it any wonder that people find this confusing!)  The Kirk Session is the collective name for elders of the congregation. Elders are men called by God and approved by the members to have spiritual and pastoral oversight for the congregation and to lead and guide them.

There are technically two kinds of elders: teaching elders who are appointed for the full time teaching ministry (the minister) and ruling elders who are appointed from the congregation (the rest of us).  In practice teaching elders are also involved in the leadership and ruling elders sometimes take a teaching role, and both are considered to be of “equal rank”. The Kirk Session meets on a regular basis and have responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of the congregation, directing the Gospel work of the congregation and dealing with matters of discipline, among other things.  When the Kirk Session meets the minister acts as Moderator (chairman) and is assisted by the Session Clerk (somewhere between a glorified secretary and the minister’s right hand man). The elders are not elected representatives of the congregation. They are answerable to God (and Presbytery, but more of this in another issue) and during discussions must make decisions according to their own conscience under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Rather than being appointed for a fixed term, Elders  are ordained for life, although they may retire from their role or - in rare cases - be removed for failing in their duties. The criteria for eldership is laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-4.

The current Elders of our congregation are: Calum MacMillan (minister and moderator), David Lipp, Donnie Henderson, Derek MacPhail, Peter Whitfield, Wildon Campbell and David Ferguson (session clerk).  We would all very much value your prayers as we seek to lead and guide the congregation.