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  • Writer's pictureRevRabRants

12 new disciples

The Special Commission on structural reform finally reports and leading the way are 12 new disciples!

Dubious about the way this Commission was established, I have to say that this report has the POTENTIAL to achieve reform, led by a new body of 12 called the Assembly Trustees. OK, the name is not magnificent; we should have had something like “The A-Team” or for that matter, “The B-Team”. I’m sure you readers out there might have other suggestions – send them on a postcard!! The Report says, “This new body requires to take up post with immediate effect to ensure a rapid response to a sense of crisis.”(all bold italic quotes are from the Report)

The 12 will rotate in time, probably a good idea, but from the start and into the future this team of 12 has to be varied, has to be bold, and has to be committed to seeing through radical reform. And I also hope the suggested appointment of a Chief Officer leads us to someone with a heart and passion for change and for God and who doesn’t need to command a high salary, and is a new face to the table. Do I think we would get the right person with a capped salary, yes I do! Start as we mean to go on!

The 12 have to start the pruning process, difficult and heart breaking though that may be, with administration, salaries and Councils made lean and fit for purpose. “These issues should be tackled without delay.”The Report shies from a definitive decision about the buildings at 121 George Street, but now is the time for a move and a new start.

“Since the 1950s, the Church of Scotland has lost c80% of its membership, and it is now half the size it was in 2000.”Some love living blind to decline, but hey, the Commission has found it to be true! Surprise, surprise! This is not “a counsel of despair”- agreed! This is a time for radical reform and grasping new opportunities!

“The Blue Book is neither well read nor understood.”Hallelujah! If nothing else, this Report is stating what we know in our hearts to be true. Sorry, all you blue book fans out there!

“Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of this restructuring of Presbyteries.”

I hope nothing does stand in the way. We need exciting and enabling Presbyteries that support and encourage the local to be radical. This whole movement of reform is about bringing back focus on the local because that’s where the action is!

It may come as a surprise to readers that I have not been the most ardent fan of the Council of Assembly and the way it has handled this remit of radical reform – perhaps its only legacy was to let loose this Special Commission – if readers thought I was harsh in the past then this Report is scathing about the disturbing lack of control over expenditure and the Council of Assembly allowing “relentless growth of posts and staffing costs within the central Councils and committees.” Most watched this swanning by our faces but seemed to just accept it! Now it is back to bite us in the proverbial! The Report states that all of this has been happening whilst financial pressures continue to grow on candidates for the ministry and something needs to be done about it! The voice in the wilderness has been calling for this for years, but at last it is good to see the need for radical change down in black and white.

“Time and again, we have been confronted in our discussions by the view that the General Assembly is unfit for purpose.” Will the turkeys of 2019 vote for Christmas? Here’s hoping! And watch out Kirk Sessions, this reform is coming for you too!

“It is clear to us that the status quo is not sustainable and that vital changes are immediately required for the welfare of the whole Church and the proper stewardship of its resources. Frequently, we have been urged to be bold and radical in our proposals. In that spirit, we offer this Report and its recommendations to the General Assembly.”

Well, Commissioners of 2019, are you going down with the ship or will you grasp the nettle, go for it, and say yes to new adventures?

Thank you, Special Commission, for your Report! It seems that more detailed measures to alleviate present problems faced by ministers and congregations in a failing system and tackling once and for all the wretched M&M system will have to wait yet another year whilst the new disciples get to grips with their calling!

My one complaint? The word “adumbrates”appears on page 44. I haven’t a baldy clue what that means, but then I’m just “a dum brat”!

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