|Activity||The kirk session of West Calder Polbeth-Harwood was initially established as the Free Church of West Calder at the time of the disruption in 1843, and after the 1900 union became the United Free Church congregation of West Calder Harwood. A number of years after the 1929 Union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, the charge became known as West Calder Polbeth-Harwood and West Calder was later dropped from the title. The congregation of Polbeth-Harwood presently holds a link with West Kirk of Calder. The kirk session sat within the Presbytery of Edinburgh, later of Livingston and Bathgate and, following the restructuring of the Presbyteries in 1976, it became part of the Presbytery of West Lothian. |
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.