|Activity||The General Assembly had proposed the erection of a local Church Court at Dornoch as early as 1581 however the first mention of the existence of the Presbytery does not arrive until the 21st November 1638, with the register of the Presbytery commencing at the later date of 1707. In 1961, by Act of Assembly, the Presbytery of Dornoch was united with the Presbytery of Tongue to form the Presbytery of Sutherland. Dornoch Presbytery formerly sat within the jurisdiction of the Synod of Sutherland and Caithness, (with the exception of the period between the years 1690 and 1726, when it was transferred to the Synod of Ross) and later of Ross, Sutherland and Caithness. |
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland of 1581 set down a pattern of presbyteries, and an Act of the Scottish parliament (c. 8, 1592) which finally established the Presbyterian system in Scotland made reference to the powers of the Presbytery. The Presbytery superintends the kirk sessions and ecclesiastical activity within its boundaries, and also elects the ministers and elders who are to attend the annual General Assembly. As a court presbyteries have the power of review of decisions taken by kirk sessions or congregations. Its membership comprises ministers, certain elders and (from 1990) members of the diaconate within its bounds. The Presbytery's main officials are a moderator (effectively chairman), clerk and treasurer. Presbyteries meet more or less monthly.
The General Assembly has the power to unite, disjoin or erect presbyteries. A very significant adjustment was undertaken in 1976 on the reorganisation of local government in Scotland. Presbyteries were the level below the synods, but synods were dissolved as from 1 January 1993.
The Presbytery includes amongst its tasks the oversight of records (eg kirk session minutes, accounts, communion rolls) produced by each Kirk Session. Within each five-year period it will formally visit each congregation. When a congregation lacks a minister, then the Presbytery has an important role in ensuring that the spiritual needs of the congregation are fully met, fulfilling its responsibility for the spiritual well-being for all parishes within its bounds. The Presbytery will appoint an interim moderator to make arrangements for continuing services and the election of a new minister. Presbyteries have the duty of caring for the well-being of its ministers, and for those who are candidates for the ministry.