The Presbytery is proposing to bring the Presbytery Plan to the Presbytery on September 9. The Plan will be discussed in break-out groups at the Presbytery Conference in the morning and then formally considered in the afternoon at an ordinary meeting of the Presbytery, when a paper vote will be taken on the adoption of the Plan in the afternoon. Both the Conference and ordinary meeting are for the new members of the Presbytery only, as they assemble for the first time in a new session of Presbytery. Of course, any member of the public may attend the ordinary meeting of Presbytery in the afternoon but they have no say at all.
The Presbytery Planning Committee hope to publish and make available a narrative outlining the thinking behind the Plan and the proposed Plan itself by August 21. Congregations and Kirk Sessions should be ready to meet, as they wish, to discuss the Plan after that date. There is until 6th September time to submit feedback and suggested amendments. The final vote at the Presbytery will be to adopt or reject the proposed Plan in its entirety. Amendments can be made as “tweaks”, but not to amend the Plan in a wholesale fashion. The Plan is an integrated whole and what affects one part may have a knock-on effect.
It is to be emphasised that there is nothing coming that is surprisingly new. Everything has substantially been intimated already at the January conference and subsequently.
At the same time as the narrative and Plan are published, there will also be details as to how the discussion will proceed, of how to feedback and make amendments. There will also be guidelines about the appeal process.
In his introduction at the June Presbytery, the Planning Convener Rev Hector Morrison, appealed for Presbytery and congregations to “be realistic”. He pointed out that for the first time ever the Church failed to get enough income to meet its budget, which itself continued to run at a deficit of nearly £5M, drawing on reserves. Things are getting more difficult.
If there were a revival tomorrow and 250 people came forward for the ministry, as things stand, the Church cannot afford to pay for the present 1,000 ministers allowed for in the Church’s existing strategic Plan. Nevertheless, the Presbytery’s proposed Plan continues to allow for the same number of ministers and paid workers as present, but it may not be long before this is taken out of Presbytery’s hands and there will be worse news coming down to the Presbytery.
The Council of Assembly, with the Ministries Council are holding an overnight conference at the beginning of November on strategic planning and Hector Morrison, together with the Presbytery Clerk, are booked to attend.