Minister and Congregation Join Free Church of Scotland

A new congregation and its minister join with the Free Church of Scotland.

A minister and congregation have been welcomed into the Free Church of Scotland. 

Mearns Free Church, which is in Newton Mearns in East Renfrewshire, is led by Rev Dr Scott Kirkland. He has been accepted as a Free Church minister at the latest General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland.  

The General Assembly Welcomes Mearn’s Elders and Minister to the Denomination

It has been quite a journey for the minister and a large majority of the congregation over the past six months, as they departed from the Church of Scotland, to become a new congregation before being accepted into the Free Church of Scotland. 

Scott said: “From the beginning of our journey, the elders have been amazed at how the Lord has gone ahead at each step and in ways we could never have anticipated! I am rebuked because of my lack of faith. I am also reminded that when God leads, He always provides! Many have remarked on the great sense of congregational unity enjoyed through these challenging months. We praise God for this. We also praise God for the support given to us by the Free Church throughout our migration process and the warmth of welcome held out to us.  

Rev. Dr Scott Kirkland

“We now pray that Mearns Free Church might increasingly become a healthy gospel church in the community of Newton Mearns!” 

The area of Newton Mearns is a suburb seven miles southwest of Glasgow City Centre, with a population of around 30,000. 

In November the minister, elders, and a large majority of the worshiping congregation of Maxwell Mearns Castle Church departed from the Church of Scotland to form the new local congregation, “Newton Mearns New Church” (NMNC).  

They said they felt that decisions made at successive Church of Scotland General Assemblies on biblical morality, the imminent relativising of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the implications of the Presbytery Planning process made this departure a sad necessity.

On the first Sunday of Newton Mearns New Church, 160 people gathered for worship. 

Rev. Ian Watson inducts Rev. Dr Scott Kirkland

Alastair McLellan, Session Clerk of Mearns Free Church, said: “Departing meant leaving behind our church premises, manse and all financial and physical assets. Convinced we were following the Lord’s leading, we began this journey with a minister, full-time youth worker, and part-time children’s/family worker. The Lord immediately secured our finances and granted us space for Sunday worship within the premises of Belmont House School in Newton Mearns. This also brought the amazing gift of access to worship during school holidays. It was a joy to hold our first Christmas services as a new church! We are so grateful to God for the generosity shown by the leadership of Belmont House School.  

“After a period of focused, prayerful discernment the elders had come to two clear decisions. The first was that we should depart from the Church of Scotland and the second was that we should seek a home within the Free Church. Both were set before the congregation. On Tuesday 21st May, the General Assembly of the Free Church welcomed us into the Free Church.  

Rev Dr Scott Kirkland, a Church of Scotland minister for 27 years and Newton Mearns New Church minister for six months, was also accepted as a Free Church Minister at the same Assembly. 

The following Sunday, with representatives from Glasgow and Argyll Presbytery, Rev Ian Watson led the congregation in worship. Scott was installed as minister and the congregation was formally welcomed into the Presbytery. Elders were appointed and the first Kirk Session resolved to accept a Congregational Roll of 135 members. Ian told the children, “Mearns Free Church” is now born!