Church Law

This brief introduction to the law of the Church of Scotland is intended to give new Ministers an overview of the place of Church Law within the Church of Scotland, explain how law is formed and used (with focus on a practical, recent example), point to some key elements useful for Ministers , and explore process issues with an emphasis on practical application.

The relevant material is all available online through the links below. It may be helpful for those attending the course to download these items and have them available on a computer during the course.

It would not be practicable to print all this material; electronic formats are sometimes more challenging to navigate but offer scope for considering larger swathes of material more rapidly. It will be particularly helpful for those attending the course to ensure they have a PDF reader, and the expertise to use it, which enables word to text searches to be carried out with reasonable ease. Options are available for Windows, Linux, Mac and Chrome operating systems.

Articles Declaratory

The Articles Declaratory effectively provide a high-level constitution of the national Church of Scotland, and are given legal effect within the Law of Scotland in the Church of Scotland Act 1921.

Congregational constitutions

There is some variety among the current arrangements for constituting local congregations. A summary with link to more detailed information is provided by the Law Department

Acts and Regulations

Copies of the Acts and Regulations of the General Assembly which are annotated for this course. The Church of Scotland website has up to date documents.

Westminster Confession of Faith

This helpful recent article on the Confession may also be worth reading. The Westminster Confession can be accessed from many sites. The Church is presently reviewing the place of the Westminster Confession for these reasons; other views supporting its retention are also expressed.

Church Law – in under twelve minutes

Rev Dr George Whyte provides an introduction to Church Law in less time than it takes for a standard a coffee break…

The Church and civil law

Mary Macleod, Solicitor of the Church, explains where Ministers might bump up against the civil law (mainly charity law and employment law) and what the Law Department can do to assist.

It will be helpful to have watched the video talks by George Whyte and Mary Macleod before attending this Church Law course.

Course outline

There is a course outline.

Blue Book

The Legal Questions Report from the 2018 Blue Book (General Assembly Reports) is also required.