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  • Writer's pictureRevRabRants

Open letter to the Council of Assembly

We are never going to see the wonderful view beyond unless we radically prune back the trees! I look to the hills...

Dear Council of Assembly,

The Council of Assembly Presbytery Conference 2018 has come and gone. At the top of the Hotel notepaper it stated “Inspiring Events”, well this was not one of them!

I wish to bring a case against you for fraudulent selling! In the e-mail I received about the conference it stated: “The focus for the conference will be around the development of the Radical Action Plan.” No, it wasn’t. The e-mail stated that the overall theme was “Follow me” with strands on radical finance, radical local Churches, and radical discipleship. This overall theme and these three strands will form the focus of our deliberations together.” Whilst these were touched upon – and only on the last morning of the conference – I heard nothing about radical finance in particular. The conference planning left a lot to be desired. There are no encouraging headlines from this conference for our Church to share with members as they grapple with radical change in their local situations.

I note and accept the apology given that the whole of the first day was nothing to do with the sales pitch. What are two days of my life worth? Can you send me settlement terms through your insurer please?

Now, I have no doubt the Council is made up of lovely and dedicated people, however the time has come to ring the radical changes, starting with you!

The Council of Assembly was instructed to return to the General Assembly 2019 with a radical action plan to achieve reform. I see absolutely nothing in the 6 months so far. Where was the outline plan or at least a list of suggestions to start to explore in these two precious days of our lives? We were promised a Burns Supper with stirring words and all we got was chicken nuggets and chips with empty rhetoric!

The Council of Assembly was instructed to work collaboratively with other Councils and Presbyteries to bring proposals for change – please do not bill these two days as consultation having taken place because that would be nothing more than a fib of the very big variety!

The Council of Assembly was instructed to bring proposals to free funds for mission work. Absolutely nothing on the table to discuss!

These instructions to the Council of Assembly were printed and stuck on the windows of our conference room, screaming at us to be noticed, yet they were not seriously considered.

Some Presbyteries may be starting to lay grounds for a radical future but we heard nothing of it here!

Thank goodness many Kirk Sessions (willingly or unwillingly) are sitting down and contemplating the future but in this process the national Church, and the Council of Assembly in particular, is setting a poor example. You should be inspiring us with your radical action plan suggestions! Instead you set up a Special Commission of the chosen elite to look at national structures and governance in particular. After 6 months this is not good enough by a long chalk! And where are the ground troops involved in this national structure debate? To be consulted? No, you should have chosen them to lead!

Is God smiling upon our fumbling efforts to be radical or are we bringing more tears to his eyes? Has Jesus not given us a simple yet profound way of being radical? Who else would have called the likes of fishermen to lead the way? Have we learned anything from Jesus’ confrontations with the religious establishment of the day, the Pharisees who cared more about saving an institution than sharing God’s love?

Following last year’s Assembly I was led to believe that the Council of Assembly had actually wanted to be more radical but had tempered their thoughts in the now defunct 10 year strategic plan. Actually, I don’t believe that, otherwise where is the draft radical plan that should have been just bursting to come out of you when the last plan was rejected?

You sought themes emanating from the conference at the end – how do we free up governance issues from local Churches – everything is open to reform – buildings bring problems and possibilities – we need leadership. All of which any of the 439 who voted for the new proposals at the last Assembly could have told you within minutes of Assembly agreement, far less 6 months down the line.

If you were a charge, then it would be high time for the Presbytery to visit and prepare a case for a charge in an unsatisfactory state! But there is a more noble way out…? This is not personal. This is about the future of our Church in Scotland. I wish you all God’s blessing. But there’s only so long you can try to put square pegs in round holes.

I take it that putting me in a room with a single bed that was at least a foot short for me and so narrow in width that it would have been more suitable for a caravan was not your idea since the conference was sadly lacking in ideas and certainly no whiff of radical ones? Or perhaps it was deliberate – to get this chubby pain in the backside to get his own radical action plan in place to tackle his overweight problem?

Now there’s a thought…actually forming a radical action plan…we’ve just lost another 6 months. Mon the reformers! Mon the rebels!

Yours in the name of the Radical One,


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