St Andrew’s Church of Scotland, Brussels, is a Protestant church. As its name suggests, our church is a member of the Church of Scotland. It is also a member of the Belgian association of Protestant churches, the Église Protestante Unie de Belgique (EPUB) / Verenigde Protestantse Kerk in België (VPKB) .
When we talk of the church being Presbyterian, this means, in very simple terms, that power is not vested in a hierarchy of individuals – there is no equivalent to the Pope and there are no bishops – but in the bodies of church members that operate at various levels. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland meets once a year in Edinburgh and lays down general church policy, although in a consultative and not autocratic way. The Assembly is chaired by a Moderator who nowadays just serves a one-year period of office and whose rôle is largely ambassadorial.
The Church in Brussels
The Church of Scotland is organised into a number of Presbyteries that group together individual churches (or “charges” as they are called) on a geographical basis. St. Andrew’s is part of the Presbytery of Europe, which brings together all the churches on the European mainland – there are 11 at present – but which because of the distances and differences involved, functions in a much looser fashion than the Presbyteries in Scotland. There is no inner circle of power – everybody is encouraged to participate in our congregational life as much as possible. The great mobility of our members, some of whom are only in Belgium for a short period, means that new members are always welcome. Although the Church of Scotland has its roots in the Scottish nation and her people’s culture, it is not exclusively Scottish. It has always had a strong missionary element to its work and is ecumenical in its outlook. Here in Brussels it attracts a very wide cross-section of people. The last time a straw-poll was conducted, it was found that we had members from 23 different countries and from 17 branches of the Christian church, testimony to the active welcome we extend to Christians of all denominations – as well as, of course, to non-Christians seeking to know God. Our congregation in Brussels was established in 1898. The present building was erected in 1925 as a memorial to Presbyterians who died in Belgium during the First World War. Like all churches, there is to be found within the Church of Scotland a wide variety in the details of what its members believe, and this is reflected in the content and form of worship in our church. However the Church regards the Bible as the ultimate source of authority under God and the following is a list, albeit somewhat simplified, of the fundamental tenets of the Church: the Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; God as Creator; Jesus as the Son of God; the Resurrection of Jesus; and the continuing influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We classify Holy Communion and Baptism as Sacraments, believing them to have been uniquely instituted by Jesus.