Day Five

Wednesday

Assembly procedures kick the day off. Standing Order 95 was amended yesterday limiting speeches to 3 minutes. We seem happy to continue in that way. Is this good? The politics of Assembly has been noted in conversation – how contributors can be put down, limited, dismissed, and now we embrace another restriction.

Assembly Trustees complete business remaindered from previous days; the so called “D10”. The Executive outline a coherent Faith Action Plan coordinating the work of Faith Impact and Faith Nurture forums through Faith Action Staff.

HM Forces Chaplains are received. CrossReach, Guild and Iona Community.

Lunch Time

The General Trustees Report

The things we were not aware of… The GT’s can only be reactive to the plans and proposals arising from planning. They cannot legally apply funds to the maintenance and insurance of buildings no longer in use by a C of S congregation. Closed buildings and particularly historic buildings that are closed as a place of worship are of concern for them. The result of planning may be an increased number of redundant builds which cannot be maintained or insured by the GT’s. A newly united congregation would have responsibility for maintaining and insuring a redundant building arising from the union. Given the expectation to “lose” 1/3 of buildings in the C of S within the next few years there is a big headache on the horizon. Around 400 church buildings will cease to be used as places of worship in the next few years. Typically they have no great value on the open market. If a newly united congregation cannot sell the redundant building it will become a drain on finances. Only when a congregation is dissolved do the GT’s take responsibility for a redundant building but cannot apply funds for its maintenance or insurance.

And this has also been agreed… Instruct Congregations a) to provide a valid Energy Performance Certificate with the Manse Condition Schedule when this is submitted for inspection to Presbytery from December 31st 2022 and b) to ensure the Energy Performance Certificate Rating for the Manse is within Categories A – C by 31st December 2025 as a target date through carrying out any necessary improvements to the building or through the sale and purchase of an approved Manse by that date.

I think this is a welcome decision for those still living in large victorian manses. But I can see the possibility of selling large old inefficient manses being problematic if fuel costs remain high. And many congregations know that the sale value of a manse seldom allows for the purchase of a new manse. The financial implications to congregations may be considerable.

WiFi goes down in the hall. We wait.

The GT’s have begun work already on the future of manses for upgrades, sustainability and perhaps even sale if upgrades are not cost effective. It is another huge task for the GT’s and another major assessment for congregations.

Safeguarding

Whistleblowing… A policy to be brought forward for Kirk Sessions and Presbyteries to utilise.