Church Life

Scots' Church Melbourne - Kirk Session

The Kirk Session is the body of elders who are entrusted with the oversight of every aspect of the life of a congregation in the Presbyterian Church. Every elder is elected by the congregation out of its membership and is then ordained into the office for life. The Kirk Session meets regularly, with the minister as its Moderator, to take decisions about the direction of the congregation's ministry and mission.

Each elder is usually assigned an elder's district, which is a small group of members to look after pastorally, visiting or keeping in touch with them regularly to inquire after their spiritual, material and emotional well being. Elders may also take on duties beyond their own congregation.

The Presbyterian church is governed by a hierarchy of courts. At the congregational level we have the Kirk Session; at the regional level a Presbytery; and at the state and national levels we have General Assemblies. In the Kirk Session elders will usually outnumber the ministers, but in the higher courts each congregation is entitled to send one representative elder to accompany their minister and so the number of ministers and elders should be equal.

At Scots' Church we have a Kirk Session that includes 4 ministers and 34 elders, some of whom represent our Indonesian language congregation and some represent the congregation of St Stephen's in Flemington which has been linked to Scots' Church for over 20 years.

The words "Kirk Session", "Moderator" and "court" are all drawn from the Scottish heritage and traditions in which we stand. "Kirk" is an old Scottish word that means Church. "Moderator" was the word commonly used in Scotland to speak of the chairman of a meeting. And in the 18th and 19th centuries, Kirk Sessions in Scotland really did function like courts, dealing with minor cases of disputes and offenses in the local community, not limited to church members.