Day Four

Tuesday

The hill from hotel to the top of The Mound never gets easier. I’m thinking that I’m old and fat!

Assembly focusses on the Faith Action Plan. Internet goes down and online participants can’t get the video presentation. A short break to reset things and we are back In action.

I confess to struggling with these video presentations. I find them jargonistic, preachy and removed from the reality we experience in our local churches. Of course there is an extent to which these presentations are meant to be visionary – another word oft used these days without defining what we really mean by it. It is certainly nothing like the “visions” experienced by prophets and apostles in the scriptures. I struggle with the constant alignment with the language of society’s trajectories on climate change, inclusion, etc etc. To me it feels like we are simply jumping on a band wagon to make the church appear relevant. Our message is Christ crucified not Climate Change. Where is the distinctive voice of the church? You may disagree with me. You are welcome to. Leave a comment, say what you think.

Speakers in the hall are passionate. One has described the plan as somewhere between wishful thinking and a rain dance! They all make good points but maybe one such speaker has hit the nail on the head – when will we actually do the good things we keep saying we are going to do?

We take a break…

Faith Impact Forum report.

The range of subject matter is vast. One gets the impression that the convener is speaking quickly in order to get through the speech in a reasonable time. Questions and comments… Climate change and cost of living; calls to press or a windfall tax on energy companies. And maybe this is what I mean… do we honestly believe Energy Companies or the UK Government are going change a course of action just because we pass a deliverance or send a letter to them. Probably not. So why do we spend time on this? Is it just to be seen to be relevant? To speak up for those who are struggling? May God give me the grace to accept what I cannot change, the strength to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Lunch. Who said there is no such things as a free lunch? I had one today! Lunchtimes are an opportunity for some charities and church departments to engage with interested parties. And what encourages folk to go to the lunchtime meeting is… a free lunch. But you do expect to be given leaflets, listen to a speaker, watch a video presentation and so on. You know the kind of things I mean. So I went to the lunch time meeting of the General Trustees. The presentation was just a slide show of pictures of churches. Ok there was a chance to speak to the General Trustees staff so fair do’s they were making themselves available to us but at the same time not what I expected. Marks out of 10? Not all lost though. There was a free lunch.

We continue with the report of the Faith Impact Forum. Myanmar, Peace in Korea, Conversion Therapy, CrossReach, and apologising for historic wrongs. What historic wrongs? Those who suffered under Scotland’s historic Witchcraft laws (yes you read that right – Witchcraft) and the Church’s and General Assembly’s role in such historic persecution. Like I say a far reaching report. History is littered with wrongs, slavery being just one of them. I can understand how and why those whose heritage is marred by slavery would want those wrongs to be recognised and reparation made. Not sure who raised the witchcraft issue. Do you ever get the impression we are tying ourselves in knots these days?

Faith Nurture Forum Report

331 vacant charges. 103 Ministry Development Staff in post of the 120 posts potentially available. 653 Parish Ministers in post. So 153 posts to lose to meet the 600 full time ministry posts target. Another carefully produced video. I’m growing ever more cynical of the image these videos and forums are presenting. “It’s good to hear such positivity…” sure, the positivity of a few people in a video. Does that reflect what the people in the pews think or feel? Does it reflect what Parish Ministers think, feel, experience? Or the people on Presbytery Planning Teams who are subjected to abusive emails. “The inevitable pain of surgery before good health is restored” is this just a glossing over of reality?

An honest expression of anxiety from a commissioner in a reviewable tenure noting that the planning process is effectively the review, that all vacancies are sisted. Probationers, those on Familiarisation Programmes and those on Reviewable tenure will be looking for a charge with no clear picture of how many charges will be available once plans are agreed or how long it will take vacant charges to reach the point of advertising, interviewing and appointing. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes!

Debate on the production of new resources. Reality is we do not have the capacity, finances or staff to create some of the resources being proposed. The proposal to records all works in CH4 falls. CH4 contains and equivalent of 82 albums worth of music!