1843 – Dr. David Welsh, the moderator of the General Assembly of the established church, read a statement of protest and walked out. Over four hundred and seventy ministers renounced the established church with him and united in forming the Free Church of Scotland.
The Free Church elected Thomas Chalmers as their first moderator. They intended to operate independently of the state, with members funding its ministry, buildings, and good works. “We own no head of the Church but the Lord Jesus,” said Chalmers.
The Church of Scotland (Scots: The Scots Kirk, Scottish Gaelic: Eaglais na h-Alba), known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national church of Scotland. Protestant and Presbyterian, its longstanding decision to respect „liberty of opinion on matters not affecting the substance of the faith” means it is relatively tolerant of a variety of theological positions, including those who would term themselves conservative and liberal in their doctrine, ethics and interpretation of Scripture.
The Church of Scotland traces its roots back to the beginnings of Christianity in Scotland, but its identity is principally shaped by the Reformation of 1560. As of December 2013, its pledged membership is 398,389, or about 7.5% of the total population – though according to the 2011 national census, a significantly higher 32% of the Scottish population, or nearly 2 million adherents, claimed some form of allegiance to it (see Religion in Scotland).