Recognised Ministries in the Church
Ministry within the Church of Scotland takes a variety of forms. It includes ministers ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, Ordained Local Ministry, deacons, and readers.
The Church of Scotland is required by constitution to provide the "ordinances of religion" to every part of the country, and it has achieved this successfully by dividing the country into parishes. Each parish has a minister, who may have responsibility for a single parish or for two or more neighbouring parishes.
There is often a need for other forms of ministry as well, and presbytery and parish workers can be appointed to work alongside the parish minister. These might include associate ministers, auxiliary ministers, and ordained local ministers, readers, deacons, parish assistants, and young people's and family workers, all of which amounts to a rich variety of skills and talents deployed around the country.
For those who sense a call to any of our ministries, the Church runs a Discernment Process as the first stage to training. More information about this and the steps necessary to become a minister is available on our Training for Ministry page.
For more information about joining the ministry, please contact: The Recruitment Team:
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel - 0131 225 5722
Our ministers carry out their duties to around 300,000 Church members. There are many more people who are not actually members of the Church of Scotland but who are regularly welcomed by the Church to worship God, take part in the life of the local congregation, and benefit from the love, care, and spiritual guidance of our ministry team.
Each month, in our Talking Ministry series we share a personal story from those serving in Christian ministry, along with resources to help you reflect on your own calling.
The role of different ministries
Ministers of Word and Sacrament
Rev. Jade Ableitner, Minister of Word and Sacrament
"It's the biggest blessing to know you're exactly where God has led you. I still pinch myself that I get to love and serve my Church family and community. No two days are the same but in everything God equips!"
Full-time ordained ministers have a particular role and function in offering leadership and vision to the Church in a changing missional context. Significant to this role is the enabling and discipleship of others to exercise their own ministry as part of the people of God.
Conduct of worship, the celebration of the sacraments and preaching are integral, as is the ability to work collaboratively in a wider framework - locally, within Presbytery and as part of the National Church.
Opportunities for service:
- Parish Ministry as identified in Presbytery Plans
- Chaplaincy in healthcare, prison, the armed forces or workplace
- Interim/Transition Ministry
- Associate Ministry as part of a team
- Employment in Presbytery, Central Offices, University structures
- Team Ministry and developing ministry models
Ordained Local Ministry (OLM)
Rev Beverley Stevenson
"The role of OLM is best suited to me because it offers variety and that excites me. A part-time minister role has different opportunities, being either part of a team or Locum when needed. I have done both."
Ordained Local Ministry is a non-stipendiary (unpaid) part-time ministry of Word and Sacrament. OLMs serve in local contexts as identified by Presbytery according to their missional needs and often (though not exclusively) work in a team setting with Parish Ministers. OLMs can serve in vacant parishes and fulfil locum roles, exercising a preaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry.
The function of the OLM would be a localised one, with appointments to posts the prerogative of Presbytery, in a manner similar to that of the Auxiliary Ministry, to a particular locality or a specific role.
Opportunities for Service:
- Attached to a congregation as part of a ministry team
- Working across a Presbytery to support a particular area of mission
- Working ecumenically to resource the Church's local vision
- Using specific skills in support of other paid staff
- Leadership of worship and the conduct of the sacraments, integral within each post
Read: Anne Stott speaking about her role as Ordained Local Minister in Perth.
"I can definitely say the Diaconate is a freeing yet challenging and fulfilling ministry. "Deacon" is the verb for service - it is the incarnational lifestyle, not a job or even vocation. I am a Deacon because I know I can do no other."
Deacons are ordained to a life-long office and offer a pastoral ministry of word and service. This ministry is one of collaboration, working with those who are ordained and set apart to proclaim the Gospel. Deacons work on the margins of the Church and society and find it natural to be bridge builders, meeting people where they are and developing new forms of ministry and worship.
Opportunities for service:
- Can be employed as Deacon/Ministries Development Staff - working in a variety of roles in the community
- Can be part of a ministry team, including the opportunity to conduct weddings and funerals
- Can serve the community through various types of chaplaincy
- Can be released from the constraints that are placed on their colleagues in Parish Ministry, enabling them to have the time to nurture individuals and groups.
"The Church of Scotland is broad and diverse, welcoming and open to all. I've lead services for over 25 congregations and gain particular fulfilment from supporting and encouraging people of all ages who are exploring faith and those who are already on their faith journey."
Read more about Tim's role as a Reader with Dundee: Meadowside St Paul's linked with Dundee: St Andrew's in our Talking Ministry series.
Readership is a ministry of the Word. Readers serve under the supervision of a Presbytery and are commissioned locally by the Church to conduct worship, preach and, in some cases, offer pastoral care. In some circumstances they can also act as locums during vacancies, and can work across or beyond a Presbytery boundary. A Reader can also be attached to a congregation for an agreed period of time.
Opportunities for service
- Can provide pulpit supply at the invitation of a minister, or conduct worship regularly in situations where there is no minister
- When attached to a congregation, can engage in service in a variety of ways, including conduct of worship, funerals, chaplaincy, school assemblies and related pastoral work as a member of a ministry team
- Can be deployed in a worship-related role within Presbytery as a whole, wherever there is a need
- Can accept invitations to conduct worship in churches of other denominations
- Cannot conduct the sacraments either within the Church of Scotland, or when invited to by another denomination