The church claims continuity from Ninian and Columba. Although the Scottish Reformation's first impact was Lutheran, the return of John Knox from Geneva in 1559 led to the church's reconstruction on presbyterian, lines, a process not completed until 1690. In between kirk and crown battled as to whether Scotland's ecclesiastical system should be presbyterian or episcopalian. Presbyterianism was advanced by the first General Assembly (1560). Its popular status was affirmed by the National Covenant (1638), the Solemn League and Covenant (1643), and the Westminster Assembly (1643–52). Episcopalianism was advanced by the Stuart monarchs' steady preference, the imposition of the Prayer Book (1637), and the restoration of episcopacy (1660). The conflict was resolved by the revolution of 1688: all ministers must subscribe to the Westminster confession. In the 18th cent. the now dominant church was weakened by secession; the growth of two parties, one favouring the rights of patronage in ministerial settlements, the other favouring congregational rights, led to the formation of the Free Church. The seceders formed the United Presbyterian Church in 1847; the United Presbyterian and Free Churches became the United Free Church in 1900. At the same time patronage was abolished (1874), there was a significant liturgical revival, and the Church of Scotland Act (1921) paved the way for union with the United Free Church (1929). The General Assembly was now equally composed of ministers and elders, and women were admitted to both eldership (1966) and ministry (1968).
Subjects: British History.