Church Emblem

The history of the emblem

The emblem first appeared in 1691. There is no record indicating that any General Assembly of the Church has ever given express approval for the use of the burning bush symbol in any shape or form, but the printer of The Principal Acts of the General Assembly, George Mossman, under his own initiative, introduced a title page that year which carried a representation of the burning bush. It was accompanied by the words: Nec Tamen Consumebatur. Between 1691 and 1888 the same design was used but appeared in no less than eight variations. In 1930, the square logo, designed by Sir D. Y. Cameron, was introduced and used extensively until 1939 in place of the more familiar emblem. 

Using the emblem today

On the instructions of the General Assembly 1958 the then General Administration Committee was charged with registering the emblem with the Lord Lyon King of Arms to safeguard the use of the seal for the Church. For the first time, the burning bush emblem became the official mark of the Church for use on stationery, banners, signs, and other material.

While the square logo is still in use in the Church today, the Council of Assembly in 2005, following a major restructuring of the Church's central administration, advised that the use of the original emblem was to be encouraged.

Nec Tamen Consumebatur

The Latin used in the emblem created by George Mossman roughly translates into: Nec: it was not; tamen: however; consumebatur: it was consumed.

The wording refers to the Book of Exodus in the Bible when Moses encountered the burning bush. No matter how much it burned, it was never consumed by the flames. Scholars suggest that Mossman may have got the idea to use the Latin (which is the Latin of Tremellius and Junius of 1597 and not the earlier Latin of the Vulgate) from France or Holland. It is suggested that the printer deliberately used the wording in its new context to celebrate the liberation that came following the bloodless revolution of 1689 when the suffering of the Church involving the monarchy and the Covenanters was finally over.   

The emblem also echoes the teachings of 16th century theologist and preacher John Calvin who saw the burning bush as representative of the people of God: the Church which suffers in any age or place but against which not even the gates of Hell can prevail.