Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland has its roots in the missionary labours of St Ninian and St Columba, and in the early Celtic church. It was reformed in the 16th century after the Genevan and Calvinistic pattern. A century and a half of ecclesiastical struggles followed, until in 1690 the Church of Scotland was established in its Presbyterian polity. Various secessions occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries, but since 1929 the Church of Scotland has been largely reunited. In the declaratory articles which the parliament of the United Kingdom approved as a correct statement of the historic position of the Church of Scotland in matters spiritual, the church is described as a "national church representative of the Christian faith of the Scottish people". The church is committed to the modern ecumenical movement and to fostering church union where possible. Its Ecumenical Relations Committee is in conversation with several other denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church. In 2006 the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland signed a covenant with the purpose of promoting good relations between the two denominations.
The church has approximately 553,000 adult communicant members. Its final authority in all matters is the general assembly. It has its own publishing house, the Saint Andrew Press. Its overseas work includes around 45 people working with partner churches in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean areas. Ministers serve in over thirty Scots kirks abroad; various others work in Israel and Palestine.
In June 2005 the Church of Scotland was reorganized at national level. A Council of Assembly brings together the conveners of six new councils of the church covering church and society, ministries, mission and discipleship, social care, world mission, and support and services. Through a report to the general assembly of 2001, entitled A Church Without Walls, the Church of Scotland identified as its core calling the hearing of the invitation of Jesus "Follow me", a calling that is personal, local, relational, sacrificial, radical and global. Within this framework the Church of Scotland continues to engage with the issues of churches and society. In recent years issues of trade justice and HIV/AIDS have received continuing attention. It recognizes the need to give priority to interfaith relations in 21st century.
In the field of education, the Church of Scotland continues to devote much attention to the training of ministers and other full-time workers, the instruction of children, youth and adults in the Christian faith and life, and its involvement in schools, colleges and universities.