Commission of Assembly

The Commission of Assembly is formed from around one-tenth of the Commissioners who attended a General Assembly. It can take decisions in place of the General Assembly in certain situations.

The current Commission of Assembly was appointed by the General Assembly of 2019. With the cancellation of the 2020 General Assembly due to COVID-19, it was decided that the membership of the current Commission would continue in their appointments. The Commission would also take decisions characterised as “straightforward, time-critical and non-controversial” in order to keep the Church's business moving on.

Details of the Commission's meetings and the decisions taken can be found below.

June/July 2020

The Commission of the General Assembly convened remotely at 4pm on Tuesday 7 July to consider a report and deliverance from the Legal Questions Committee.

The Commission of Assembly, appointed by the General Assembly of 2019, is formed from around one-tenth of that body’s commissioners. In special circumstances the commission is empowered to take decisions in place of the General Assembly.

Due to the COVID-19 health crisis the 2020 General Assembly had to be postponed, so alternatives have been put in place to deal with important and time-sensitive matters. A special service was held in May to install the 2020-21 Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair.

The current Commission of Assembly met in November 2019 and was again consulted in April/May 2020. A short General Assembly for 2020 was held on 2-3 October to deal with urgent business.

The Commission of Assembly meeting in July considered temporary measures to alleviate blockages to filling vacancies and conducting the business of the Church during the current COVID-19 crisis. The deliverance was approved and you can read the Minute of the Commission of Assembly here.

The membership of the current Commission will continue in their appointments until another General Assembly is held and a new Commission is appointed.

A small number of key personnel will attend the Commission of Assembly in person at the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh. The event will be livestreamed on the Church website.

Read the full Legal Questions report and deliverance

You can download the full Legal Questions report and deliverance as a Pdf file.

April/May 2020

With the 2020 General Assembly being postponed, the membership of the current Commission continue in their appointments until another General Assembly is held to appoint a new Commission.

The Rev Dr George J Whyte, Principal Clerk, said:

“There are some decisions which would normally be taken by a General Assembly and which need to be taken at this time, rather than wait until the next Assembly in 2021. We have characterised those decisions as “straightforward, time-critical and non-controversial”. Papers have therefore been sent out to members of the Commission of Assembly asking them to approve certain items of business.

The methodology proposed is that if a member of the Commission agrees to these proposals they need take no action. If sufficient members request that a particular matter be discussed, the Clerks of Assembly will seek to arrange a virtual meeting of the Commission, to be held on Saturday 16 May 2020.

We hope in this way to keep the Church’s business moving on as regards these important matters.”

Proposed items of business

  1. Elect the Rev Dr Martin Fair (Arbroath: St Andrew’s) as Moderator of the General Assembly 2020-2021
  2. Pass Acts uniting (1) the Presbyteries of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, and St Andrews to form the Presbytery of Fife, (2) the Presbyteries of Aberdeen and Shetland to form the Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland, and (3) the Presbyteries of Dumbarton and Greenock & Paisley to form the Presbytery of Clyde
  3. Agree that membership of the Social Care Council will with effect from 1 June 2020 be reduced to 12 in accordance with a revised nomination process
  4. Make certain appointments to Standing Committees as proposed by the Nomination Committee, and to Trusts as requested by these Trusts
  5. Agree that the Ecumenical Relations Committee shall act on behalf of the General Assembly in the dissolution of Local Ecumenical Partnerships
  6. Amend the process for appointing the Committee to Nominate the Moderator and ask the Nomination Committee to populate that Committee, so that it can select a Moderator for 2021-2022
  7. Amend the Income Protection and Ill-Health Act (Act VI 2019) to reflect Income Protection provision commencing at 78 weeks rather than 52

Read the full report

Download the paperwork sent out to members of the Commission (PDF).

Minute of the Commission

Download the Minute of the Commission of Assembly (PDF).

November 2019

The Assembly Trustees released a report on the merger of four central Kirk councils into two new agencies which was then considered at the Commission of Assembly on Thursday 21 November 2019 in the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh.

UPDATE:

Formed from around one tenth of the Commissioners who attended this year’s General Assembly, the Commission of Assembly has most of the powers of the General Assembly, and will conduct their business with the same format and Standing Orders as the Assembly itself.

Serving our local congregations

During this first phase of changes, the Assembly Trustees have been under instruction by the General Assembly to bring forward proposals to merge the current four councils (Ministries, Mission and Discipleship, World Mission, and Church and Society) into two new agencies.

John Chalmers, Convener of the Assembly Trustees, said:

“The Assembly Trustees have been working successfully in partnership with the four conveners of the central councils to agree proposed names and structures for each of the two new agencies.

“In doing so, it is hoped that this lays the foundation for a new way of working in which the emphasis will be on supporting and resourcing the local Church.”

John added:

“At this stage, the names of these new agencies are the least important part of the report – it is the focus on how we can work smarter, use our resources more effectively and revitalise the work Church across of Scotland that really matters.

"The two new agencies currently have working titles of ‘Faith Nurture Forum’ and ‘Faith Impact Forum’.

“The ‘Faith Nurture Forum’, consisting of the Ministries Council and the Mission and Discipleship Council, will be aimed at 'taking us into the heart of God'."

“On the other hand, the ‘Faith Impact Forum’, consisting of the Church and Society Council and the World Mission Council, will be aimed at ‘taking us into the heart of the world’.”

The Assembly Trustees’ proposals

The key proposals put forward by the Assembly Trustees to the Commission of Assembly included:

  • Approve the merger of the Ministries Council with the Mission and Discipleship Council under the working title of ‘Faith Nurture Forum’ to take effect from 1 January 2020
  • Approve the merger of the Church and Society Council and the World Mission Council under the working title of ‘Faith Impact Forum’ to take effect from 1 January 2020
  • Instruct the Assembly Trustees to work with the two new agencies to propose to the 2020 General Assembly detailed remits setting out: which parts of their existing work will be carried out by the two new agencies, which parts are no longer necessary to be carried out, and which parts should be carried out by presbyteries instead
  • Instruct the Assembly Trustees to work with the two new agencies to propose to the 2020 General Assembly how the work of each Forum is to be prioritised from June 2020
  • Approve that Ecumenical Relations and the Theological Forum sit within the management and departmental structure of the 'Faith Nurture Forum'
  • Approve that Interfaith work sits within the management, departmental structure and policy framework of the 'Faith Impact Forum'
  • Approve the remit of the Audit Committee, as set out within the report's Appendix II

The Trustees’ report also covers suggested meeting patterns and the ways in which the two new agencies’ ‘implementation groups’ would work.

The Commission of Assembly was asked to approve the council mergers and agree broad remits.

Read the full reports