- Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
Infobox Christian denomination
name = Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
founded_date = 1893
Free Church of Scotland (1843-1900)
Associated Presbyterian Churches(separated 1989)
The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (
Scottish Gaelic: "An Eaglais Shaor Chlèireach") was formed in 1893 and claims to be the spiritual descendant of the Scottish Reformation. It is sometimes colloquially known as the Wee Wee Frees (not to be confused with the "Wee Frees" which is the colloquial name for another offshoot of the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland).
In 1892 the Free Church of Scotland, following the example of the
United Presbyterian Church of Scotlandand the Church of Scotland(1889), passed a Declaratory Act relaxing the stringency of subscription to the confession, which was widely perceived as paving the way for unification with the United Presbyterian Church. This was met by a protest from the minister from the island of Raasay, who was later joined by one other minister. The result was that a small number of ministers and congregations, mostly in the Highlands, severed their connection with the Free Church of Scotland and formed the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, along lines they considered to be more orthodox. By 1907 this body had twenty congregations and twelve ministers.
A few years after the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (FP Church) was formed, the Free Church of Scotland unified with the United Presbyterian Church to form the
United Free Church of Scotland, with a somewhat larger minority remaining outside the union and retaining the name Free Church of Scotland. Initially, some wondered if the two churches would merge, but this did not happen.
The two denominations are sometimes confused, as the differences between them are not great. However, the FP Church considers it
sinto use public transport to go to church on the Sabbath, while the FC do not. The FC have permitted the use of modern Bibletranslations, while the FP Church exclusively retains the King James Bible.
Although, even in a Scottish context, the FP Church is a very small body, because it is largely based in the Highlands, there are some areas where it is a significant presence. There are even a few small pockets where it is the main denomination, e.g. the island of
Raasay. It experienced some controversy when one of its members, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, was present during the celebration of mass at a Catholic funeral, which, combined with previously existing controversies over the nature of liberty of conscience, led to a split and the formation of the Associated Presbyterian Churchesby those opposed to the reprimand given to the Baron in 1989. It has a bookshop in Woodlands Road in Glasgow, which sells a range of biblical and theological material reflecting the Free Presbyterian confessional stance.
The FP Church claims to be "Reformed in Doctrine, Worship and Practice," and says that all its actions are based on the Word of God: the Bible. The "subordinate standard" of the church is the
Westminster Confession of Faith. The FP Church has been involved in missionary work. It is represented in around a dozen nations, found in Europe, North America, Australasia, Africa and Asia. It has a relatively large sister church in Zimbabwe, where it also owns the Mbuma Mission Hospital. In Australasia, congregations are found in Gisborne, Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington, New Zealand, and in Australia, in Sydney and Grafton.
The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has no official connection with the more recent Free Presbyterian Church founded by
Ian Paisleyin Northern Ireland. Similarities between the two denominations include the use of the King James Bible, opposition to Roman Catholicism (though this is perhaps voiced in a different style), the wearing of head-coverings by women in public worship, and conservatism in theology. Differences include what is sung in church (the Ulster denomination sings hymns while the Scottish one uses only psalmsin public worship), and a different emphasis with regard to evangelismand revivalism. Confusingly the FP Church (Ulster) has several congregations in Scotland, while the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has one congregation in Larne, Northern Ireland. Other countries where both churches have a presence include England, USA, and Canada.
Religion in the United Kingdom
Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster- a different denomination, associated with Ian Paisley, started in Northern Ireland in 1951.
Presbyterian Reformed Church
Associated Presbyterian Churches
* [http://www.fpchurch.org.uk Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland]
* [http://www.fpbookroom.org Free Presbyterian Bookroom, Glasgow]
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