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  • Writer's pictureRevRabRants

Another opening, another show!

First coffee break at GA2018, saw this chocolate bar with my name on it!!

Welcome to the opening of General Assembly 2018!

Traditional but witty Mod departs, in steps Susan Brown, appropriately in this year when we celebrate 50 years ordination of women to ordained ministry! Awra best Susan! Footnote though…50 years of women in ministry and only three of many former Mods at the front of the Assembly hall were women! In light of our last Church panto, making myself available in the guise of Widow Twanky!

Assembly Arrangements encourage us to play our part and ask the questions! OK, will do! Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, my friends!

To one deliverance a Commissioner wanted to add “and prayerfully uphold their endeavours”. Why do we add these things that could be added to almost every deliverance! The Bible Society told a great story about a Church leader with only half a Bible, now he has the whole Bible to teach his people. A metaphor for the Church itself – we need the #wholepicture of the Church, the positives and the challenging reminder of decline!

Over £100,000 spent on assisting individuals with the cost of discipline cases against them – the Convener of Legal Questions is remedying this and having support means tested to save money, after all this is not what folk put their offering in the plate for, he says! Indeed, nor do good folk put their offering in the plate to cover the £1,000,000 required to cover the cost of 17 senior employees! (Yes, folks, that figure is a million!)

Another wee debate on the same sex relationships theme – how did that sneak in? Another opportunity to rehearse the same old argumentzzzzzzz…but choice wins the day at the end of the debate… choice should always win, shouldn’t it?

A two second clip of the Scottish Cup Final suddenly appears on screen, the Celts were up one nil! Must have been me pressing the wrong button on my voting handset!

Oh my goodness, I’ve just realised that the Assembly Council, in its Supplementary Report, has a deliverance to receive the Annual Report and Accounts – that glossy booklet that came through the door! Jump to feet as I wanted to say something…

Whilst I appreciate the fact that the Report wants to rally the troops to face the future, for me it does not give enough emphasis to the serious challenges lying before our Church. It says, “Despite reports of dwindling congregations, we are delighted to be able to report that we have in excess of 350,000 members.” (p4) Whilst I do focus on the positives, we cannot close our eyes to the #wholepicture, the fact that we have lost 150,000 members in the last 10 years and if we continue at the same rate then we will need more than a toothless Strategic Plan to set us flourishing once again. These Reports should continue to be positive by all means, but also to be realistic and this Report is one opportunity for the Church to put up the warning flag which, for me, it doesn’t really do. Where the Report does mention ageing and declining membership (p34) it talks of this having an impact on the income of the Church – dare I say it is going to have an impact on the future of the whole Church not just its income. So I call for full and positive, but realistic Annual Reports!

I can’t help myself, but I also had to take this opportunity to say a word about staff costs. After all, the Assembly Council Convener did say we are going to have to trim the budget! Despite the report to last year’s Assembly, including an independent report on why staff salaries are apparently so reasonable (cough), I remain unconvinced. I made no deliverance, simply to say that it is disappointing to note in a Church where ministers are paid £33,000 at top end that we pay 17 employees between 60 and 90 thousand pounds. (p56) Several years ago it was reported that a multi-million pound charity, Mary’s Meals, which feeds hundreds of thousands of children had to turn some senior staff away because of its decision not to overpay them and its salary cap then was £60,000. Food for thought!

Don't know why that last paragraph appears in larger font but cannot seem to change it...coincidence?

Peace be with you!

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