With one minor exception, Scotland has seen no church union since 1929. During those five decades the national Kirk (now with just over one million members) has been involved in talks that failed: for example, with Episcopalians (43,000) and Congregationalists (20,000). There have been friendlier relations with Roman Catholics (about 310,000 adult members) and Baptists (16,000), perhaps aided by the fact that no marriage was purposed.
What comes as a surprise to visitors, however, is the continued existence of four smaller Presbyterian bodies (aggregating 40,000 members and adherents). With three of these groups there is not even a remote possibility of union, for doctrinal reasons; the fourth protests the principle of an established church even in the modified form existing in Scotland today. Neither can any of these groups unite with each other. There was also an abortive merger scheme twenty years ago between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England (about 1.85 million communicant members).
What needs to be added to this background is that the total Scottish church membership, including sizeable other bodies such as Christian Brethren and Salvation Army, still accounts for rather less than 40 per cent of the population. More than three million souls in the land of John Knox are without even a nominal religious connection.
It seemed important to offer this flurry of statistics as something not irrelevant to the latest merger scheme—between the Church of Scotland and Scottish Methodists. The latter, who number fewer than 10,000 with forty ministers, have never been strong in Scotland, and are found chiefly in the cities and in those areas visited by John Wesley on his travels north of the border.
Talks between ...1
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