New volume of Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae released

A historically significant series of books that lists every Church of Scotland minister since the Reformation — the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae — has now published its twelfth volume.

george-whyte
Principal Clerk Rev Dr George Whyte with the Church's extensive library which includes every volume of the Fasti.

The latest edition of the book covers ministers and congregations since the autumn of 1999. Published every 20-25 years, this latest Fasti is the twelfth in the series.

Roy Pinkerton, a retired academic and an elder at Greyfriars Kirk, edited Volume XII, assisted by Alison Murray, an elder at Linlithgow: St Michaels and a former personal assistant to a succession of Moderators. The pair were supported by an advisory committee of key Church of Scotland staff.

"‘What exactly is the Fasti?,' people have been asking," Roy said.

"The Latin term ‘Fasti' in this context simply means ‘a register of officials' and the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae is a complete record of the ordained ministry of the Church of Scotland stretching back for four and a half centuries.

"The first seven volumes were compiled in the second half of the 19th century, tracing the succession of ministers in each parish back to the Reformation in 1560 and including other ordained personnel such as those in universities or in overseas missions.

"Since then, updates have been issued every 20 to 25 years and the recently-published volume XII covers the period from 1 October 1999 to 30 September 2020."

‘An essential resource for parish historians'

The Fasti has been the source for many interesting facts about the life and work of our ministers over the years, with a few surprises revealed along the way.

"In the early volumes, information about family members was included, along with the occasional revealing anecdote: it is recorded, for example, that the first Moderator from Orkney, the Rev James Law, who was Moderator in 1608, was rebuked by the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale when in his first charge of Kirkliston for playing football on a Sunday," Roy said.

"Sadly, no such exciting revelations are to be found among the records of the almost 3,200 ministers who appear in the index to volume XII, a total that encompasses not only those who have served for all or part of the past 20 years, including auxiliary ministers and OLMs, but also those whose ministry was fully recorded in previous volumes and are now in retirement.

"Fascination of a different kind, however, was to be found as responses to our request for information were sent in to Alison Murray, an indefatigable editorial assistant, and then edited by myself.

"The sheer volume of the task needed careful handling and the logistics of the exercise provided a challenge which helped to preserve editorial sanity during a year of lockdown.

"As the 508 pages of text gradually filled up, the considerable variety in the range and backgrounds of those called to the ministry soon became obvious: to give details here of the more unusual instances might lead to the unauthorised identification of those concerned, so readers will have to discover these for themselves!

"Some special cases merited an extra comment: the last minister to be ordained by the United Free Church prior to 1929, the minister who was ordained for the longest number of years in the whole history of the Church of Scotland, and a few other similar instances for the careful reader to unearth.

"The variety in ministerial backgrounds is not restricted to Scotland. I was intrigued to find that ministers of the Church of Scotland had either been born, studied or worked in at least 36 states in the USA and in all but one of the Canadian provinces, while the global picture reveals that over 70 different countries have had a part to play in the development of our ministry.

"Volume XII of the Fasti, then, remains a fascinating compendium of information about the ministry of the Church.

"In addition, the arrangement of the material by parishes provides a full record of the succession of the ministry in each parish, an essential resource for parish historians, and also preserves the only permanent record of unions, linkages and other forms of readjustment.

"There is much here to be explored by church historians and others interested in the composition of today's ministry and in the organisation of the parish structure of the Church."

Buy the new edition of the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae

The hardback book costs £30 plus postage and packaging, and can be purchased by sending your full postal address to fasti@churchofscotland.org.uk.

Your order will be sent out together with instructions about payment.