Thursday, 20 May 2010

Council of Assembly Report

Rev. Alan Greig, Convenor of the Council of Assembly presented its report. He detailed the overall financial condition of the Kirk stating that although thanks to a certain recovery in the stock market, its investment value had increased slightly, the overall financial condition of the Kirk was still in the red. He stated that the Kirk’s accounts are being audited and have been approved by Price Waterhouse Coopers. The Kirk’s councils will have the difficult task of working within their budgets in spite of the fact that currently they have consistently been over budget for the past year. Rev. Greig thanked the financial contribution of congregations across Scotland, but stated that some congregations might still need to be challenged and brought forward the importance of the National Stewardship Programme with which to increase the level of financial input from parish churches into the Kirk.

Rev. Greig the presented a modification in the HIV/Aids programme which will now be known as The Church of Scotland HIV/Aids programme. Grants made to this programme in the future will be limited to support partner churches outwith the UK. He then proceeded to present to the Assembly new members of staff. Mr. Stuart Wilson in the post of head of media and communications and Mrs. Pauline Weibye as Secretary to the Council of the Assembly. Mrs Weibye, Session Clerk at Craigmillar Park Church, Edinburgh, has spent her working life in the public sector in a variety of management roles, joining local government soon after graduating from the University of Edinburgh. Mrs Weibye has been a member of the Central Services Committee of the Church of Scotland since 2005 and Vice Convenor (Human Resources) since 2006.
The Convenor presented and update on the development of the Church of Scotland’s website, which will be operational in the summer and responded to questions on the development and standardisation of presbytery websites by stating that although there is not yet an established programme, the Media and web-team would be happy to provide support to presbyteries.

The financial situation of the Kirk attracted considerable discussion, with commissioner’s discussing the viability of each congregation adopting a stewardship programme and the levels of contributions needed. The following two questions seem to summarise one side of the discussion…“One size does not fit all” or “Would it be agreeable that each congregations pays not what it wants to pay but what it is capable of paying? On the other hand, “the just because you are small you cannot do anything approach is not acceptable” was the counter argument. Other voices stated that “the process must be fair on congregations and they should contribute as appropriate”.

The discussion then moved to the mechanisms for financial planning at presbytery level in the case of centrally funded and locally funded posts.

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