The Kirk Session at St Andrew’s, like all Church of Scotland churches, is made up of elders and the minister. The elders are members of the church who have been ordained into this leadership role.
In our constitution it says that the Kirk Session has oversight of the whole life and service of the Church within its Parish; responsibility for the spiritual and temporal oversight of the Congregation’s affairs. Its spiritual responsibility involves “leadership, nurturing the spirituality of the congregation and its members, caring for the spiritual welfare of the parish and parishioners, encouraging members to participate in the worship and life of the congregation, and promoting mission and evangelism in the parish.” (the words of a past Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Very Rev Jim Weatherhead.
The members of the Kirk Session are encouraged to be an active part of one Action Group while still maintaining their role in the overall oversight of the work of the church.
We currently have 20 elders in St Andrew’s and these, with the addition of the minister, are the Trustees of Blantyre St Andrew’s Parish Church of Scotland.
Minister: Rev. Murdo C. Macdonald
Session Clerk: Andy Williamson
Depute Clerk: Elsie Balneaves
St Andrew’s Parish Church continues to thrive as a congregation. It is not a numerically large congregation, but it continues to be a committed group of fellow travellers with Christ.
A few years ago a full review of the working of the church and its vision for the future was participated in by elders and members of the Congregational Board. This resulted in the adoption of the Purpose Statement:
Our aim at St. Andrew’s is to be a church where everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord; we seek to achieve this through our welcome, our worship and our witness.
- As a church we endeavour to make sure that all are made welcome in the name of Christ.
- As a church we exist to worship God through meeting together for corporate worship.
- As a church we are called to be salt and light, to make a positive difference in the world.
Blantyre St. Andrew’s Parish Church of Scotland is a church primarily concerned with people. The church is the sum of its membership and each person brings to the activity of the church their own gifts and talents that are encouraged and equipped to flourish through the fellowship of the church.
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…… Hebrews 12 vs 1-2
In the years that followed the structures of the church were changed with the adoption of the Unitary Constitution and the formation of seven new Action Groups (and the removal of the Congregational Board). The Action Groups made up of elders and church members cover all the main areas of St Andrew’s work and cover all the key areas of the Purpose Statement.
In the 2007 quinquennial visitation these Action Groups were highly commended by the
Presbytery of Hamilton for the opportunity they give for more members to be involved in both decision-making and active participation in St Andrew’s.
This continued movement towards more team working took a further step in 2008 with the adoption of Pastoral Teams in place of single elder districts. These teams have a joint responsibility for the pastoral care of church members in their Pastoral Areas. In addition to the Bereavement Care Group and GriefShare Support Groups run in St Andrew’s we continue to offer excellent pastoral support and care to church members and the bereaved within our community.
It is encouraging to see more church members become involved in both the leadership of the church through the Action Groups, and also the many different ministries that operate in St Andrew’s from pastoral care to puppets!
Of great benefit to this congregation, but also to neighbouring congregations has been the opportunities for working together that have flourished in recent times. Rather than being enforced from outside, this has developed naturally through joint Magnify evening praise services, through shared discussion evenings such as Living the Questions, and through sharing in ventures like the Easter Holiday Club for primary-aged children.
You can learn more about what is going on today in St Andrew’s through the other pages of this website.
Without a doubt there are many challenges that lie ahead for St Andrew’s as a congregation as we continue to live out our commitment to Jesus Christ and to follow in his way.
Operating under the Unitary Constitution
What on earth is the Unitary Constitution, you may ask? It is a form of structure for the leadership of a Church of Scotland.
For many years St Andrew’s Parish Church operated under what was called the Model Deed, meaning that the work of the church was split into the spiritual and temporal with the Kirk Session having responsibility for the former and the Congregational Board for the latter.
While this worked well for many years, with the adoption of seven Action Groups to which much decision making was devolved, it was found that there was often unnecessary duplication of decisions and meetings between the Congregational Board and Action Groups.
In 2006 the congregation voted to move to the Unitary Constitution. While this returns oversight of all matters both spiritual and temporal to the Kirk Session, this is balanced by the decision making powers that have been passed to the members of the Action Groups, which comprise both elders and church members.