Person NameAberdeen; Greyfriars Kirk Session; 1828-; Church of Scotland
EpithetChurch of Scotland
ActivityBuilt on site of old Franciscan priory, the original 16th century Greyfriars church in Broad Street, Aberdeen was very grand. After the priory was suppressed at the Reformation, and its lands and buildings granted to the city, the Town Council gave the land to George Keith, Earl Marischal, to found Marischal College, Aberdeen’s second university. The church became the Marischal College chapel within the town parish of St. Nicholas, but its importance was considerable and the General Assembly met there on three occasions. It was much changed over the years with additions and renovations, and in 1828 it was disjoined from St Nicholas to be a parish in its own right. In 1902, substantial extension work was begun at Marischal College buildings, and the original church was demolished: a new church was built at the city’s expense and is at the edge of the college site, still in Broad Street. In 1996 the congregation was united with that of John Knox Church, Mounthooly, under the name Greyfriars John Knox and continues to worship on the Broad Street site.

Each congregation of the Church of Scotland has a Kirk Session, which comprises the minister(s) and the ruling elders, all members of the Session (including the minister) being elders. The elders' duty is care for the spiritual needs of the congregation; each of them has a district of the parish assigned to him/her. The Kirk Session determines the number of elders. The minister is moderator of the Session, and there is a clerk who has custody of all the Session's records. There may also be a treasurer, and an officer or beadle. The Session must have maintained a communion roll, containing the names and addresses of the communicant church members within the parish.

The Kirk Session's duties are to maintain good order amongst its congregation (including administering discipline and superintending the moral and religious condition of the parish), and to implement the Acts of the General Assembly. The Kirk Session is at the base of the pyramid of church courts, and it is subject to the review of the Presbytery in which it is situated, and to the superior courts of the Church. Each Kirk Session elects one of its number to represent it at the Presbytery (and formerly at the Synod).

Into the 19th century, there used to be weekly collections made for the support of the poor, but as the state began to assume responsibility for their support (by means of taxation) so funds collected from communicants might be directed to special schemes (eg support of missionaries), more recently through a weekly freewill offering scheme. Seat or pew rents were also quite common (money paid for a fixed seat in a church), but declined rapidly from the 1950s. Many congregations now have a congregational board, which monitors income and expenditure. Former Free Church congregations often had Deacons' Courts, which had responsibility for the whole property of the congregation, and had to apply spiritual principles in the conduct of their affairs.
Corporate NameGreyfriars Kirk Session
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