The APC Denomination
The Denomination to which the congregation belongs is affectionately called "APC" for short. It came into existence in 1989 when it seceded from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
The APC's constitution consists of the Bible as its Supreme Standard and the Westminster Confession of Faith as its Subordinate Standard.
Currently, there are over a dozen separate functioning congregations, but only nine ministers in charges.
FORM OF GOVERNMENT
The congregation is presbyterian which means that all major decisions are taken by the presbytery rather than the local church. There is one Scottish Presbytery – the minister and one elder of each congregation is represented at the Presbytery. There are around four presbytery meetings per year. An appeal can be made to the presbytery from the local Kirk Session (the local congregation’s spiritual leadership), where a ‘case’ may be heard and over-ruled. Again, there can be an appeal from the presbytery up to the Annual Assembly. The Annual Assembly, where representatives from other presbyteries abroad usually attend, is the Supreme Court of the church. There is no appeal from that court. Parties must ‘acquiesce’ and go along with the ruling of the Supreme Court, but, if parties in conscience feel an injustice has been done, they may appeal to Christ in the Court in Heaven for His Judgment.
Membership in the congregation is either by profession of faith in Christ with a life consistent with that profession, or by transfer with ‘Certificate of Membership’ from the most recent Christian Church attended. Membership is open to those already baptised and who wish to profess saving faith in Christ for the first time. We accept the baptism performed by other Christian denominations.
There is no ‘policing’ of members’ behaviour, but we do expect that members will live lives, as Paul puts it, "worthy of the gospel of Christ" [Phil 1:27]. We believe Christian conduct ought to be different from the conduct of unbelievers and do not think it is too much to expect true believers to attend public worship regularly or to give sacrificially not only in material things but also of their time and talents.
COMMUNION & LORD'S SUPPER
We have the Lord’s Supper four times per year in most congregations. Members should partake of the Supper unless they are backslidden or have been disciplined. Other Christians present are welcome to join us at the Supper, if they are members in good standing with other recognised churches. If they appear unexpectedly at a Communion, we accept their personal testimony on the day.
We sing the Metrical Psalms unaccompanied which fits in with our Highland culture. There is an annual Conference in Inverness and we have a Magazine entitled: "APC News" which comes out six times a year. The denomination's website is here.
OUR TRADITION & HISTORY
The APC originated in 1989 when nearly half of the ministers in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland left over the Free Presbyterian Church's perceived failure to practise two of the chapters in the Westminster Confession of Faith, viz Liberty of Conscience (chapter 20) and the Communion of Saints (chapter 26). Our whole emphasis, therefore, within the Reformed churches of Scotland is to literally practice fellowship with all Christians and an open pulpit. We allow individuals to make their own decisions on matters not fundamental to the faith. [One well-known speaker has said that the APC provide "the human face of Calvinism" in Scotland]. We readily acknowledge that it is not easy to drive a middle course between legalism on the one hand and "licence" to do anything one pleases on the other, but we believe the Bible, allows the individual Christian to decide these issues. We therefore try to allow freedom of conscience and offer a genuine liberty to our members. We like to think we have an emphasis on doctrine without being "doctrinaire" and stress that 'the only rule to direct us' is our Supreme Standard (the Bible) rather than our Subordinate Standard (the Westminster Confession of Faith).
There are three developments which our office-bearers have been largely responsible for in the larger and wider work of the church. One is the Blythswood Charity, (Christian Care for body and Soul) which operates a fleet of trucks delivering goods to third world countries, originated with the late Revd John W Ross our former pastor in Lochcarron. This organisation has expanded greatly in the last ten years.
Another development is the expansion of the publishing company Christian Focus Publications (CFP). The managing director is William MacKenzie in our Inverness congregation and his co-directors are office-bearers in other congregations. William is well-known at home and abroad among authors and publishers.
The third development from our office-bearers is the Highland Theological College (HTC) a faculty of the new University of the Highlands & Islands. Revd Alexander Murray of our Lairg congregation is the Chairman of both the Trustees and Board of Governors, and has played a large part in the emergence of the Christian college.