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Scots Church

History and museums
sightseeing, church, cathedral

Scots Church is a stone church on the southwest corner of North Terrace and Pulteney Street in Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. It was one of the early churches built in the new city, in 1850-51.


A prominent group of immigrants to South Australia (which was only settled by Europeans from 1836) supported the Free Church of Scotland movement. This group called Reverend John Gardner from Scotland, and established "Chalmers Free Church", named after Rev. Thomas Chalmers, the first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland in 1843. Gardner arrived in the colony in March 1850. He immediately initiated buying the land on the corner of North Terrace and Pulteney Street, the foundation stone was laid on 8 September and the first service held in the new building on 6 July 1851. The Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of South Australia was formed 9 May 1854.

The Free Presbyterian Church Church, United Presbyterian Church and the Church of Scotland merged in 1865 to form one Presbyterian Church of South Australia, although a section of the Free Presbyterians led by Rev James Benny of Morphett Vale did not join the union. When the states federated in 1901, the main Presbyterian denomination in each state federated, so Chalmers Church became part of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

Chalmers Church amalgamated with the Flinders Street Presbyterian Church congregation in 1929, with the new name "Scots Church". The Flinders Street property was eventually sold in 1956, yielding funds to build on the western side of the North Terrace property, using bluestone facings from Flinders Street. The current (2014) organ and western stained glass also came from Flinders Street.

In 1977, the majority of the Presbyterian Church of Australia joined with the Methodist and most Congregational congregations to create the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA), the denomination of Scots Church today. Scots Church minister Rev Ian Tanner was elected as the first Moderator of the UCA Synod of South Australia, and then in 1985 became the 4th President of the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia

The Scots Church building has been on the South Australian State Heritage List since 1986, and is the second-oldest church building in the City of Adelaide.

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