First (Scots) Presbyterian Church


We're Glad You're Here!

We welcome you to First (Scots) Presbyterian Church. We invite you to explore our website and learn more about the life and ministry of our church. Since 1731 this diverse, vital and growing congregation has served Jesus Christ and the world beyond our walls in Christ’s name. Worship, Education, Mission and Fellowship are the hallmarks of our ministry together and there are an abundance of opportunities for leadership and participation. Join us for worship or one of our many other activities during the week.

A Brief Statement of Faith: Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.

Tours: We offer tours of our church every Sunday following worship service(s). Come to the front pulpit area after worship and our docent will lead you on a 15-20 minute tour. If you have a larger group and would like to schedule a tour during the week please call ahead (843-722-8882) and we can arrange a tour.



Our Denomination

“God comes to us in free and undeserved favor in the person of Jesus Christ who lived, died, and rose for us that we might belong to God and serve Christ in the world. Following Jesus, Presbyterians are engaged in the world and in seeking thoughtful solutions to the challenges of our time. Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose for us so that we might have eternal and abundant life in him. As Christ’s disciples, called to ministry in his name, we seek to continue his mission of teaching the truth, feeding the hungry, healing the broken and welcoming strangers. God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, giving us the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to be Christ’s faithful disciples in the world.

– From the PC(USA) website

For information on our denomination, check out

The Pillars of First (Scots) Presbyterian Church

Traditional Worship and Music

We invite all to join us in traditional, reformed worship of Almighty God that leads us to follow Christ. Traditional and inspirational music that glorifies God is an integral part of our worship.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; Come into his presence with singing.” Psalm 100:1-2

United in Purpose and Respectful for Diversity

We are called to be the Body of Christ seeking the mind of Christ and listening together to the Spirit with respect and love for all God’s children.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord…To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Christian Education and Youth Ministry

All generations grow in their faith through the study of God’s Word and participation in the spiritual life and ministry of the Church.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-15


Our common faith in God leads us to develop and deepen our friendships with one another and build the community that God calls us to be.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42


Faithful Stewardship of God’s Gifts

Called to be stewards of the many gifts God has given us, we strive to take care of God’s good creation and share what we have to serve God and neighbor to build the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” 1 Peter 4:10


As disciples of Christ we use our gifts to serve God with joy as we invite all to join us in following Him.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24

Mission and Outreach

In living as followers of Christ, we reach out to local, global and faith communities. We seek to equip believers to share God’s love and bear witness to God’s compassion and grace.

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25:35-36

Congregational Care

We extend the compassion of Jesus Christ to one another, offering nurture and care along life’s journey through expressions of kindness and concern.

“When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’” Luke 7:13


We extend hospitality to all: welcoming, inviting and connecting those who unite with us in ministry as we grow together as the body of Christ.

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7


How We are Organized

The PC(USA) is divided into regional units known as presbyteries. Our presbytery spans the area between Georgetown, Hilton Head Island, Barnwell, Orangeburg, and Santee, and is known as the Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery. Our church is organized according to the denomination’s Book of Order. Men and women are nominated and elected by the congregation to serve three year terms as ordained elders and deacons, and as trustees.


The congregation’s chief governing body is made up of the pastors and elected elders who are elected by the members to discern the will of God for the congregation. The Session is moderated by the senior pastor. The Session is responsible for the overall mission and governance of the church.


Given authority for congregational care by the Session, deacons are elected to three year terms. In addition to congregational care, deacons are charged with the oversight of hospitality toward the congregation and guests.

A Brief History of First (Scots)

First (Scots) Presbyterian Church was organized in 1731 as The Presbyterian Church of Charles Towne by twelve Scottish families who withdrew from the White Meeting House. The latter had been home to the Presbyterians and Congregationalists in Charles Towne since 1681. The amicable division was over the issue of subscription to the Westminster Standards of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). The Scots wanted “strict subscription,” however, the majority of the dissenters were “non subscribers.”

The first ten ministers of what was soon known as the “Scots Kirk” or the “Scotch Meeting House” were Scots. An influential early pastor, the Rev. Dr. Alexander Hewat (1763-1776), wrote History of the Provinces of South Carolina and Georgia.  The Rev. Dr. George Buist (1793-1808), also served as president of College of Charleston while pastor at First (Scots). From 1832 to 1937, First (Scots) was served by just three pastors: The Rev. Dr. John Forrest (1832-1879), the Rev. William T. Thompson (1880-1900), and the Rev. Alexander Sprunt (1901-1937).

The first building was a frame structure completed in 1734 which stood in the southeast corner of the present churchyard. It was enlarged in 1763 and twice again between 1783 and 1808. The frame building was replaced by the present Sanctuary in 1814. The massive stuccoed brick building has twin towers rising above a columned portico. It was probably designed and constructed by the Scottish master builders John and James Gordon, who were members of the congregation. The design was perhaps inspired by Benjamin H. Latrobe’s Baltimore Cathedral, built a few years earlier. The church is the fifth oldest house of worship in Charleston.