The Foreign Mission Committee (later Board of World Mission and Unity) of the Church of Scotland was responsible for the Church's mission work around the world. In 1824 the Church's General Assembly resolved to send its first missionary to India and appointed Alexander Duff who arrived in Bombay in 1830. The first missionary to China arrived at Yichang, modern Hubei province, in 1878 but by that time the Disruption of 1843 had led to the split of the Free Church of Scotland from the main Church and the United Presbyterian Church had been formed in 1847. This latter Church sent its first missionary, Dr John Ross, to Manchuria in 1872 and, in co-operation with the Irish Presbyterian Church, the work grew steadily in evangelical, medical and educational areas.
The Chinese Presbytery (later Synod of Manchuria) was formed in 1891 and in 1899 the Theological College was established at Moukden. In 1900 the United Presbyterian Church joined with the Free Church of Scotland and the missionaries became the responsibility of the new United Free Church transferring to the Church of Scotland in 1929 when the two Churches joined. Despite the Boxer rebellion of 1900 the mission continued to flourish, there was a period of revival in 1908 and Moukden Medical College was opened in 1912.
Conditions were never easy for the missionaries, and they suffered sever disruption during the Japanese occupation (from 1931) and the Sino-Japanese War (from 1937). However in January 1941 there were over seventy Church of Scotland missionaries in Manchuria, but the entry of Japan into the Second World War meant that the missionaries were either evacuated or interned by the Japanese. After the war some of the missionaries were invited back to Manchuria, the first arriving in 1946, but by the end of 1948, with the whole of Manchuria in Communist hands, it became increasingly difficult to work effectively. The main group of missionaries withdrew during 1949 and all had left by August 1950. The Church attempted to keep in touch with developments in China, or with Chinese Christians who had left the country: missionaries and church officials were members of various China focus groups and during the 1980s they took part in the first official Church visits to China.