Standing Orders


  1. The Presbytery shall consist of all ministers of parishes within the bounds, and other ministers and deacons qualifying for membership in terms of General Assembly legislation, Commissioned elders, appointed additional elders and the Presbytery Clerk.
  2. The roll shall be attested at the ordinary meeting in September.
  3. Each Kirk Session shall commission annually one of its number (or as otherwise provided for in General Assembly legislation) as a representative to the Presbytery.
  4. The Presbytery shall appoint annually enough additional elders to ensure that there are as many elders as ministers. Kirk Sessions and Presbyters may submit the names of elders for consideration by the Connections and Nominations Committee for appointment as additional Elders as vacancies arise. In selecting names to propose to Presbytery for appointment, the Committee shall have regard to the need to ensure (i) that with respect to the Orkney and Shetland island areas the total number of elders appointed should, so far as possible, be equal to the number of inducted ministers, and (ii) that the membership of Presbytery is broadly representative of the make-up of the congregations within its bounds and that Presbytery has access to the range of skills and experience needed for its work.
  5. Elders’ commissions, which run from 1st July to 30th June, shall be forwarded to the Connections and Nominations Committee by 15th June, where possible, and in any case not later than two months after the close of each General Assembly in order that proposals for committee membership may be prepared.
  6. Presbytery may appoint Corresponding Members, including but not limited to, MDS staff appointed in accordance with the Presbytery Plan, the Convener and Secretary of Guilds Together, Elder Trainers, Presbytery Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Presbytery Safeguarding Trainers, Readers and Graduate Candidates. Ministry Candidates in the earlier years of training may apply for Corresponding Membership.
  7. Corresponding Members may attend all meetings of Presbytery and speak (except when Presbytery is exercising judicial functions) but cannot vote or propose a motion.
  8. When the Presbytery’s Administrator, Buildings Officer, or other Presbytery Posts, are not a member of Presbytery, they shall be a Corresponding Member.


  1. The Connections and Nominations Committee, having provided an opportunity for suggestions to be received, shall propose a Moderator.
  2. Presbytery shall elect a Moderator from among its members at the April/May meeting, in even numbered years.
  3. The Moderator shall normally hold office for two years from the June meeting.
  4. In the absence of the Moderator, the immediate past Moderator shall preside, and if not present, a former Moderator shall preside, whom failing the Presbytery shall elect a temporary Moderator for the meeting.
  5. Should the Moderator cease to be a member of Presbytery during their term of office, their duties shall devolve upon a previous Moderator nominated by the Connections and Nominations Committee, until a new election can be organised.
  6. The Moderator shall have no deliberative vote. In the event of a tie in voting, the Moderator shall have power to give a casting vote.


Presbytery shall appoint a Clerk, Depute Clerk, Treasurer, and Auditor, who shall hold office at the will of Presbytery.


Presbytery shall normally meet for Ordinary Business on the first Tuesday of February (evening, online), the fourth Tuesday in April (evening, hybrid), the third Saturday of June (all day, hybrid), the first Saturday of September (all day, hybrid), the first Tuesday of November (evening, online) and the first Tuesday of December (evening, online).

When arranging hybrid meetings the Presbytery shall have regard to the transport limitations affecting the attendance in–person of Presbyters from Orkney and Shetland, and should ensure that, so far as is possible, meetings, their timing and duration, cohere with ferry and other transport timetables. Consideration should be given to the offer of pulpit supply fees in facilitating the attendance of minsters from Orkney and Shetland.


Specific Purpose Meetings may be called, either at an ordinary meeting of Presbytery or by the Moderator.  If called by the Moderator, the first item at a Specific Purpose Meeting shall be the approval of the Moderator’s decision to call the meeting. Normally, wherever possible, two weeks notice of such meetings shall be given to all members and corresponding members of Presbytery. No other business shall be discussed at such a meeting.


  1. Presbytery business shall be conducted in accordance with the Standing Orders of the General Assembly, save where specified differently in these standing orders.
  2. The quorum for all Presbytery meetings shall be 3, of which 2 must be ministers.
  3. When the Presbytery has been constituted, the draft minutes of the last ordinary meeting and any subsequent meetings, being circulated to all members by the Clerk beforehand, shall be submitted for approval.
  4. The order of business, as circulated in the documents sent by the Clerk prior to the meeting, with amendments proposed by the Business Committee, shall be agreed by the Presbytery.
  5. After the order of business is agreed it shall be competent to move at any time that a matter (in whole or in part) be taken in private, such a motion to be voted on without debate. However, as much as possible, matters should be taken in open court.
  6. Any member of Presbytery wishing to give notice of motion shall submit the same in writing to the clerk prior to the meeting of Presbytery.
  7. After committee reports are presented and the deliverance has been moved, questions shall be taken. The deliverance shall then be considered section by section. Any amendments are to be disposed of before counter-motions. The Presbytery votes ‘For’ or ’Against’ an amendment. In the case of a counter-motion the Presbytery shall vote ‘For’ the motion or ‘For’ the counter-motion. Finally, the deliverance as a whole is to be put to the Presbytery for approval.
  8. All speakers should use microphones.
  9. Speakers must address the Moderator and should preface their speech with ‘Moderator’ (followed by their name if speaking for the first time at any meeting).
  10. No member may speak more than once on the same matter, except by the permission of the Moderator, apart from (i) the original mover of any motion, who may answer questions or give explanations in the course of the debate and who shall have the right of reply immediately before the relevant committee convener closes the debate, and (ii) the committee convener whose report is under consideration, who shall have the right of replying to the debate, and in so replying thereby closing the debate.
  11. Motions, amendments, and counter-motions should be sent in writing to the clerk prior to the meeting to allow them to appear on screens as far as possible, but in any case, immediately they have been seconded.
  12. Questioning: When a Presbyter intends raising a question or making a comment; the response to which is likely to require research in terms of finance, statistics, or interpretation of Church Law, then courtesy requires that advance notice be given to those likely to be involved in the response.
  13. Point of Order: Where a genuine point of order over procedure is raised, the challenger shall state the grounds for raising it usually referring to the Standing Order the challenger believes has been infringed; the speaker may reply briefly to explain why they consider they are not out of order; but no other member may speak except by permission of the Moderator. The Moderator shall then give his or her ruling, but before doing so may invite the court to vote on the matter. The Moderator’s ruling can be challenged, and, if it is, a vote will have to be taken.
  14. Other than with the special permission of the Presbytery the maximum time-limit for speeches shall be as follows:
    - Convener presenting a Report, introducing an Overture, presenting a Petition – 10 minutes;
    - Mover of a Notice of Motion, moving counter-motions, seconding motions, making comments – 5 minutes;
    - Guest speakers – 10 minutes;
    - Speeches about Appointments, Translations, Demissions, Tributes – 5 minutes;
    - Time limits do not apply when the Presbytery is either: a) dealing with matters under the Barrier Act; b) acting judicially
  15. A member of Presbytery may dissent from any decision made by the Presbytery and this dissent will be recorded in the minutes, if both: a) the member gives intimation of dissent before the meeting proceeds to the next business; b) the member has taken part in the vote on the matter under discussion.
  16. Fast-track business: It is important that Presbyters should read the committee reports in advance of the meeting, in order to be aware of items of business, which have been designated for fast-tracking. If any Presbyter considers such an item to be deserving of debate, then they should notify the Presbytery Clerk, or the Business Convener, by 12 Noon on the day before the Ordinary Meeting. The appropriate convener will then be informed and the relevant section(s) of the proposed deliverance removed from the fast-track process. After submitting the agenda, the Business Convener will formally move the adoption of all fast-track business. Although fast-track items will be adopted in a single block, the subsequent minute of Presbytery will record the detail of such items under the appropriate committee report. When compiling the report of a Standing Committee, the convener should clearly identify any sections of the proposed deliverance, which are of a routine or administrative nature and which the committee considers can be 'fast-tracked' rather than requiring oral presentation and debate by Presbytery. A full explanation of proposed 'fast-track business' should be outlined in the committee's report.
  17. Apart from Supplementary Reports and Vacancy Procedure Committee Reports, only in exceptional circumstances and with the agreement of the Convener of the Business Committee may a report be given orally or a late written report be circulated. Any paper so presented must be in the hands of all Presbyters at the meeting and read by them prior to any discussion commencing.
  18. The Presbytery shall not review its own decision, but shall return to the same subject only where altered circumstances produce a fresh proposal, or where the law of the Church requires the matter to be decided anew.


Presbyters have a legal duty, as charity trustees, to act in Presbytery’s best interests when making decisions, even if doing so conflicts with their own interests or those of a relative or friend, or with the interests of the congregation that appointed them. Should a member of Presbytery believe that there may be an actual or potential conflict of interest for them in the business before Presbytery or one of its Standing Committees, he or she should declare it at the start of the meeting at the indicated point in the Agenda, failing which, at that point when the relevant item of business is reached. A full explanation of what can comprise a conflict of interest, and how a conflict can be managed, is provided in the Presbytery’s Code of Conduct. [to be provided]


Presbytery papers are circulated to enable informed discussion to take place at Presbytery meetings. All members and corresponding members are expected to respect this intention. If a paper is labelled confidential it must not be shared or circulated without permission from the Presbytery Office.  In particular, Presbytery papers should not be passed to the Press, without the specific approval of the Business Committee. Any breach of this shall be considered to constitute contempt of court.


Use of Powers:  In the event of a decision being required in relation to a matter which is judged to be administrative and/or non-contentious and where it is considered that a delay would be unhelpful to those affected, Powers are given to the Moderator (whom failing a predecessor), Clerk and the Convener and Vice Convener of the Business Committee, in consultation with any other appropriate Committee Convener or member, to act on behalf of Presbytery.

In all cases the use of powers must be reported to Presbytery at the next ordinary meeting.

Note that in April 2023 Presbytery agreed the following further delegation of powers:

(i) to its Planning and Deployment Committee power to approve and proceed with Bases of Adjustment which are in accordance with the terms of a current approved Presbytery Mission Plan, provided that the congregations named in the Bases of Adjustment have voted in favour of the adjustments;

(ii) to its Property and Finance Committee power to:

(a) approve requests from congregations for consent to repairs and alterations, (b) approve requests for the disposal of church property and (c) approve requests from congregations in connection with the use of financial resources, all provided that the Kirk Sessions and, where appropriate, the congregations have voted in favour of the said requests.

Provided that, where any action is taken by a Standing Committee in respect of any of the foregoing delegated powers, the Standing Committee exercising the delegated power shall make a full report to Presbytery of action taken and approvals given, such reports to be made at the meeting of Presbytery next succeeding the exercise of the delegated power.  Where a Standing Committee makes a determination in the exercise of a delegated power it shall inform the Presbytery Clerk within forty-eight hours of such determination in order that the Presbytery Clerk may inform a congregation of any rights it may have in respect of such determination.


In any situation where the law or practice of the Church requires that a formal edict, notice or citation should be sent to a congregation or to an individual, it shall be considered sufficient for this to be transmitted by email when this facility is available to recipients. Citations from Presbytery to a congregation regarding attendance at a Presbytery meeting should be read to the congregation on at least the two Sundays prior to the meeting.


  1. The Standing Committees shall be as follows:
    - Business
    - Church, Society, International
    - Congregational Support
    - Presbytery Planning and Deployment
    - Property and Finance
    - Training and Development for Ministry and Mission
  2. Support Committees shall be as follows:
    - Connections and Nominations
    - Complaints
    - Pastoral Support
  3. The Business Committee shall comprise a Convener, a Vice-Convener and the Conveners of the other Standing Committees and the Connections and Nominations Committee, together with two additional ministers and two elders (all four to be elected by Presbytery for three years, one of whom to be from the Northern Isles), the Moderator, Clerk, and Treasurer.
  4. Conveners of Standing and Support Committees shall be nominated by the Connections and Nominations Committee and be appointed by Presbytery at its April meeting.
  5. Conveners of Standing and Support Committees shall serve for four years and shall not normally be eligible for re-appointment.
  6. Membership of each Standing and Support Committee should normally be limited to 12 members.
  7. Members of Presbytery appointed to Standing and Support Committees are expected to participate fully in the business of the Committees.
  8. Members of Standing and Support Committees shall be appointed by the Presbytery on the nomination of the Connections and Nominations Committee at the June meeting of Presbytery to serve from the First day of July following the said June meeting of Presbytery.
  9. Members of Standing and Support Committees shall normally be appointed for four years in the first instance and be eligible for re-election for a further four years. No member shall normally serve for more than two consecutive terms of office.
  10. Each Standing and Support Committee should, if possible, include representation from the different areas of the Presbytery.
  11. Each Standing and Support Committee shall appoint a Vice-Convener and Minute Secretary.
  12. Presbytery shall appoint a Convener-Designate to each Standing and Support Committee to serve alongside the Convener during the latter’s final year of office.
  13. The frequency, scheduling, location and format of Standing and Support Committee meetings shall be for Conveners to determine in consultation with their members.
  14. Standing and Support Committees may co-opt additional non-voting members who have a specific interest and expertise to offer, such co-options to be reported to the Connections and Nominations Committee.
  15. The Moderator and Clerk are entitled (ex officiis) to attend all meetings of Standing and Support Committees and should be specifically invited if their advice or expertise is required.
  16. Conveners of Standing and Support Committees should submit any proposal requiring Presbytery finance to the Business Committee prior to submitting this to Presbytery.
  17. A Convener who is unable to attend a meeting of the Business Committee should appoint a deputy to attend in their place.


  1. Any proposal for the alteration of standing orders shall be either: i) on the report of the Business Committee and intimated to Presbytery; ii)  by notice of motion sent in writing to the Clerk in time to be circulated in advance to all members of Presbytery;
  2. Standing orders may be amended on such a proposal or motion receiving a simple majority of those present and voting at the meeting at which it is considered.


The Presbytery may, on the motion of any member and on cause shown, suspend Standing Orders, or any of them, provided that such Motion shall receive the support of at least two thirds of those voting when the question is put by the Moderator, and provided that such suspension shall not contravene any General Assembly legislation or regulations or be otherwise ultra vires.

As agreed by Presbytery on 10 January 2023.