The Assembly Trustees

Assembly Hall

The Assembly Trustees body was established in 2019 after the Special Commission concluded that the existing structures could not deliver the radical changes needed by the Church.

The new trustee body is more powerful than the Council of Assembly. It has greater transparency and accountability and answers to the General Assembly.

Members appointed in 2019 will serve for three, two and one-year terms to ensure continuity as well as change.

The constituent committees and groups of the Office of the Assembly Trustees include the Central Services Committee, the Trustees' Governance Group and any ad hoc groups created by the Trustees. The Assembly Trustees work alongside the Audit Committee and the Nomination Committee.

The Central Services Committee

The Central Services Committee is a constituent committee of the Assembly Trustees, reporting to the General Assembly through the Trustees. The Central Services Committee oversees the delivery of central services to departments within the Church Offices, to the Standing Committees of the General Assembly and, where appropriate, to the statutory corporations, presbyteries and congregations of the Church. These include estates management, Information Technology services, communications, Human Resources, legal and financial services.

The Committee acts as one of the employing agencies of the Church and oversees all aspects of staff appointments and staff terms and conditions of service. It is also responsible for negotiating with the Employee Council Committee and bringing forward to the Assembly Trustees recommendations in respect of staff remuneration.

The Committee comprises the Convener, Vice-Convener and Administrative Trustee of the Assembly Trustees and two other Assembly Trustees. Meetings are attended by the Chief Officer, the Solicitor and the Head of HR. Budgetary and financial advice is given by the General Treasurer or a staff team member of the Stewardship and Finance Department.

The Trustees' Governance Group

The Governance Group is a constituent group of the Assembly Trustees, reporting to the General Assembly through the Trustees. The Governance Group advises and assists the Trustees in the exercise of the supervisory function of the component elements of the Church as required by the Church's Designated Religious Charity status and in accordance with the provisions of Schedule B of the Trustees' Constitution and Remit. This includes maintaining and implementing internal audit functions and risk management strategies as well as maintaining and reviewing all necessary Codes of Conduct.

The Governance Group works with the General Treasurer in setting appropriate standards of financial management for the Unincorporated Entities and in overseeing compliance.

Furthermore, the Governance Group supports the Trustees in their oversight of compliance by Forums, Committees and Presbyteries in the proper discharge of their duties and responsibilities under charity and accounting legislation.

The Group comprises seven Assembly Trustees, one of whom is the Convener of the Trustees, one the Vice Convener and one the Administrative Trustee. Meetings are attended by the Chief Officer and the Head of Organisational Programmes. Advice is given by the Solicitor, the Head of HR and the General Treasurer as required.

Trustee updates

Assembly Trustees Update April 2022

  • The trustees met on 7 April. There was no meeting in March under the new programming of meetings for 2021-22.
  • Following a short-listing process, applicants to be trustees had been interviewed and three names can be taken to General Assembly. There is one remaining vacancy. Given that the maximum number of ministers had been reached and given the need for diversity it was hoped that a further advertisement might provide a suitable candidate. It is hoped that the next induction process will be able to include new Forum members and new General Trustees.
  • The phased return to work at George Street with a new set up and facilities had been welcomed by staff. Whilst there had been snagging challenges, these were being dealt with and there was a positive atmosphere; but the change back to hybrid office working showed that care had to be taken in planning for scaling up.
  • The issues emerging as regards Presbytery Planning and its inevitable tensions and anxieties for many ministers and their families were considered at length. However, the status quo was not an option, this was a ten-year plan, and a significant issue was how to manage the imminent scarcity of ministers. Going forward, the Church had to emphasise its missional rather than structural existence.
  • There was further discussion as to the potential benefits, especially if focussed on particular areas, of involvement in ‘Social Investment’ and the possibility of involvement without the creation of an unacceptable additional work burden will be explored further with a detailed scoping and options paper to be brought to the trustees at a later stage.
  • Arrangements for eligibility and criteria for involvement in the Pioneer Mission Fund have been agreed
  • The Small Grants Fund is being launched as soon as practically possible
  • Forward budget proposals for the ensuing five years have been discussed and will be in the Supplementary Report; as will proposals to re-activate the proposed Growth Fund, which was paused at the start of the pandemic. The latter is seen as immediately required in order to tackle serious decline and deliver a new future. Presbyteries will be expected to play the major role in identifying target ministries and having vision as to what the future might look like. The anticipated calls on reserves over the next five to seven years highlights that strategic plans are vital and would have to include further plans to reduce national expenditure in order to be able to invest properly in ministries and to be able to fund cost of living increases.
  • The trustees have agreed to encourage Kirk Sessions to engage in a joint ecumenical and Christian Aid legacy promotion initiative in the autumn
  • The Head of Communications met with the trustees to discuss current issues. Much of the current work was about prioritising the release of GA reports onto the website along with the creation of news stories to publicise individual reports. In parallel at this particular time the Department was seeing an increase in enquiries and media requests for information regarding local issues around Presbytery Mission Planning and the Church reform agenda. A particular concern within the Department was as to the ability to ensure effective communications with the local church and to provide them with the support they needed to communicate changes happening at a local level.
  • The trustees met with Brian Duffin, Chair of the Church of Scotland Investors Trust to learn of current developments with the Church’s investments. Pressures which had been building generally anyway had been increased through the invasion of Ukraine and had put pressures on energy prices in particular. The process of globalisation over the past thirty years had started to reverse and countries were looking to have more control over their own position. Energy and food security would play a part in this. There was a slowing of global economic outlook compared to what would have been the case without the Ukraine situation. COVID-19 continued to have impact in the far east which restricts growth. Overall, the funds were able to withstand some of these shocks. In discussion, it was agreed that there was great importance to be attached to joined up working between the various arms of the Church’s operations and that a particularly important engagement would be with the Net Zero Group.
  • The trustees, in discussion with CrossReach, will return to the work, paused at the start of the pandemic, to respond to the views of the 2019 Special Commission, accepted by General Assembly, that CrossReach should move towards becoming a more self-sustaining organisation within the Church. The trustees have agreed with a joint planning group that such issues require, as a preliminary step, clarity of understanding as to how CrossReach and its operations might best be characterised and what makes it special through its place in Scottish life, the care sector and the Church. This will be an iterative process with a small, short-life working group reporting on this preliminary matter in early course.
  • The next meeting of the trustees will be on 12 May.

Assembly Trustees Update February 2022

  • The trustees met on 10 February. There was no meeting in January under the new programming of meetings for 2021-22.
  • Application packs for those interested in taking one of the trustee appointments available in 2022 are now available online
  • Critical Staff who require access to the office to fulfil their role returned to the national offices on 7 February. Hybrid working is programmed to commence in a careful, measured way with a safety first focus in early April.
  • In discussion with the Head of Faith Action Programme, the trustees noted the concern, experienced generally across the whole of the Church, of feeling overworked and that it would be important for all to understand how properly to lay down the old in order to cope with the demands facing the Church in the 21st century
  • With this and related concerns in mind, the trustees approved a Strategic Framework proposal moving towards the adoption of a single, overarching plan which would set clear priorities and assist in ensuring that the resources of the Church, both human and financial, are deployed in the most appropriate ways and at the same time assist the budget-setting process for forthcoming years
  • It was noted that the progress of the Pay and Grading Review, which is targeted at establishing a fair and consistent pay structure and progression system for the National Office, was on target. This project is also providing very valuable input into the organisational review, including greater clarity regarding where work should be focused and the identification of who should lead in specific work areas.
  • The trustees were pleased that work to explore engagement with Social Impact Investment was being initiated, essentially exploring how congregations have impacted on the community in missional, creative and supportive ways
  • Notwithstanding the many challenges in the present period, it was encouraging to understand that a survey conducted by the Employee Council had resulted in a positive response from staff in terms of the efforts to improve communications, trust and relationships
  • The Head of Communications met with the trustees to discuss current priorities and practicalities. The trustees agreed that the Communications Department needed immediate support in achieving the proper prioritisation of communicating key information both internally and externally. A paper examining the drivers for change and initial recommendations was approved.
  • The Training Task Group and the Faith Nurture Forum are focusing on revising training for Full-time Word and Sacrament ministry and there has been a further meeting with the five academic providers. The trustees believe that requirements for training for the full-time ministry within the Church must be given the highest priority and endorsed the principles that were presented to the meeting to achieve this. The key outcome was the need to establish a way forward that would meet our recruitment needs into ministry and deliver the Faith Action Programme.

Assembly Trustees Update December 2021

  • The trustees met on 9 December preceded by a remote coffee hub with members of CSC staff. There was no trustees’ meeting in November under the reduced schedule of meetings for 2021-22.
  • The process to find further trustees following retirements in May 2022 will begin in January
  • The Hybrid Working trial period for CSC staff has been deferred until March 2022
  • A Future Mission Advisory Group (2 trustees, 2 Forum members and the Head of Faith Action Programme) is planned for the first quarter of 2022 and will consider new approaches such as those seen in Priority Areas and Path of Renewal work
  • The trustees confirmed that the size of the Pioneer Mission Fund initially would be £100,000 as already provided for in the 2022 Budget. The purpose of the Fund would be to support local church growth, with a particular emphasis on church planting and the establishing of new worshipping communities. Applications would be open to parties based within the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and International Presbytery which are local congregations and/or presbyteries. A detailed set of Rules would be presented to the trustees for agreement. The trustees emphasised the importance of the fund in underpinning Mission Planning. The future is about pruning to grow. Having established the fund it will be vital to have mechanisms in place in future years to encourage wider investment in it and work on this would continue.
  • The trustees met with the Principal Clerk to discuss ongoing developments in respect of new Presbyteries and noted that business plans were being received and appraised to establish future budgetary needs, to try to ensure that there is consistency in the grading of equivalent Presbytery staff roles, and to enable benchmarking and identification of best practice for sharing
  • The progress of the implementation of the Faith Action Programme continues with the creation of a single Faith Action Staff team which will bring benefits through stronger working relationships with Forum members/wider staff and more readily align with the needs of the Church locally. The Trustees agreed to a further development of the staffing arrangements for the Programme.
  • Priorities in the Faith Action Plan include leadership and work with the Under 40s, with task groups underway in these areas
  • Recruitment and Training will be brought into one team to ensure that there is a single point of focus. This will also help the response to the acknowledged threat to the Church of low recruitment to Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
  • Sanctuary First is being brought into the Faith Action Programme from their current home in Falkirk Presbytery. The intent is to enable a national approach to the development of digital ministries. Priorities will be set to measure and maximise the potential impact.
  • With congregational 2020 results now available for detailed analysis, modelling has begun in order to identify appropriate assumptions as to how much Giving to Grow might generate when the scheme is implemented in 2023. As part of this work, sensitivity analyses will be carried out both to assist in Budget setting for 2023 and to enable judgements to be made about the scope of the Transition Fund to alleviate pressure on Congregations that will need to pay more under the new scheme.
  • Turning to the National Offices in George Street, Edinburgh, the trustees endorsed the Faith Action desking pilot and noted that the current prediction was for the Faith Action layout area to require some 380 sqm compared with the 1,087 sqm currently occupied. This allowed the trustees to consider an approach from an outside organisation for a 20-month licence to use space which had become surplus. The trustees agreed to the proposal subject to satisfactory security and access arrangements being established following a risk assessment for data protection reasons. The General Trustees will oversee the process of signing off.
  • The trustees noted that the CrossReach Wellhall Care Home, Hamilton had closed in October as it was no longer sustainable and agreed to a proposal that it be marketed for sale. A proposal to upgrade facilities at St Margaret’s Care Home, Polmont was approved.
  • The trustees agreed that, following discussions with the Audit Committee, it should be proposed to General Assembly that the Governance Group should take oversight of risk management for the Unincorporated Entities within its remit. Given enhanced work for the Governance Group, its minutes will be shared with the Audit Committee.
  • Special Meetings have been held by the trustees with CrossReach and senior staff to consider the appropriate response of the Church to the possibility of engaging with the Scottish Redress Scheme. Whilst the trustees are positive about this, agreeing to contribute to the scheme is a complex matter and the trustees have expressed their gratitude to both the Chief Executive of CrossReach and the Solicitor of the Church for the clarity and precision with which they have been able to advise them.
  • An Induction morning on general issues of importance to trustees and Forum members took place on the morning of 16 December. This was followed in the afternoon by in-depth training sessions for the trustees on matters more specifically within their remit.
  • The next meeting of the trustees will be on 10 February. The Governance Group will meet on 13 January.
  • The trustees wish everyone a peaceful Christmas and a happy New Year.

Assembly Trustees Update October 2021

  • The trustees met on 14 October, preceded by a remote coffee hub with members of CSC staff. There was no trustees’ meeting in September under the reduced schedule of meetings for 2021-22.
  • A recommendation from Faith Nurture on stipend and salary awards for 2022 was received for consideration. The determination of the Trustees will be communicated by Faith Nurture in due course. The trustees also discussed and agreed the pay rise to be offered to the staff of the Central Services Committee and that this will now be communicated to the Employee Council.
  • The budget for 2022 has been approved with a deficit to be met from reserves of £5.2m (Budget 2021 – deficit £11.4m). This is subject to further adjustments for stipend and pay increases and some capital investment. Clear prioritisation will be key to the maintenance of proper budgeting as the years progress.
  • Whilst working from home remained the default for many staff for the remainder of 2021, the National Office had reopened on 5 October 2021 with full access under a clearly defined set of protocols, for an initial core staff group.
  • With the Chief Officer, the Head of Faith Action Plan and the Head of HR, the trustees discussed the impact on Faith Action staff of the changes taking place and of demanding workloads in some areas. It is judged that the ongoing prioritisation of work, review of job descriptions and the pay and grading review will assist.
  • With the Solicitor and the General Trustees, the trustees will continue to explore the application of the proceeds of sale of redundant buildings for the purpose of reporting to General Assembly 2022
  • Work continues to identify the different permutations of possible funding models for new Presbyteries. The National Office team had met with all 10 new and emerging Presbyteries leading to major interactions, greater clarity around financial requirements and development of proposals to enable the inclusion of these requirements in future budgets.
  • Proposals have been approved to allow newly formed Presbyteries to be eligible, as independent employers, to enter their staff into the Church’s Defined Contributions pension arrangements
  • The benefits of the work of the Grants Team were being realised with some £913k raised across 64 congregations from Adapt and Thrive
  • The Church’s website Donate Button has achieved in excess of £300k for congregations
  • The trustees have agreed that the size of the Pioneer Mission fund will be £100k initially, and that it should open for applications on 30 May 2022. It will be managed through the Grants Unit but supported by a decision-making group gathered with relevant experience on pioneer mission. Once the Fund has been established, work would commence regarding gathering funds from other sources. A further paper on eligibility and criteria will come to the trustees’ December meeting.
  • Congregational sustainability remains a concern and the Congregational Sustainability Task Force is working to take forward pilot schemes
  • The trustees have approved the commencement of a review of insurance arrangements in respect of requirements, current cover, duplications and gaps with a view to rationalisation
  • There is to be a review of the arrangements for all Pension Plans sitting under the Defined Contribution arrangements, with the scope of the review focusing on the importance of ESG considerations
  • The retail unit at 117-119 George Street has been re-let for the time being whilst the long-term future of the National Office is being assessed
  • On 26 October the trustees are to hold a special, remote, session with representatives of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group in order to better understand their work and to explore how dominant identities can shape the world, and what impact that can have
  • A special meeting of the Assembly Trustees will be held shortly regarding the involvement of the Church in the Scottish Government Redress Scheme for survivors of historic abuse, the issues facing CrossReach, and as to whether to contribute to the Scheme, how and in what amounts
  • The next meeting of the trustees will be on 9 December. The Governance Group will meet on 17 November.

Assembly Trustees Update August 2021

  • The trustees met on 12 August
  • On ministries, the current focus of the Training Task Group is upon enhancing the number of candidates coming into the full-time ministry. After consideration by Faith Nurture in September, proposals will come to the trustees in October after which there will be further engagement with academic providers.
  • As regards presbytery funding, the Chief Officer, the General Treasurer and the Principal Clerk are setting up meetings with each of the new presbyteries to identify the different permutations of possible funding models. The results will be considered by the Economic and Financial Oversight Task Group.
  • There is to be a launch event for outreach to the Under 40s, co-hosted with the Scottish Episcopal Church
  • The trustees met with representatives of the Guild. It was appreciated that whilst the Guild plays a major part in the life of the Church nationally, regionally and locally, it has not always been included in discussions relevant to its work; nor were its interests always taken appropriately into account. Recently the Chief Officer had been meeting monthly with representatives and this would be formalised. Ann Nelson will be the liaison trustee and it is possible that the Guild might come into the Faith Action Plan as a mutually supportive partner.
  • The present minister in Jerusalem has intimated that he will not seek renewal of his contract on expiry in February 2022. The trustees have approved a proposal for recruitment and appointment of a successor.
  • The trustees are in engagement with the internal auditors, Azets, to participate in a validated self-assessment of their work over the next few months
  • The Congregational Sustainability Task Force is in discussion with Edinburgh and Glasgow Presbyteries regarding the identification of congregations to work with the task force in piloting defined engagement and support arrangements
  • The trustees have noted the taking forward of a process of high-level consultation with staff members and Forums towards a revisal of staffing configurations. There are individual areas of work where staff will require proper support during periods of significant change and in which there will need to be close co-ordination with other areas in order to deliver the agendas of the Forums. Proposed outcomes, objectives and timelines will be presented to the trustees after consultation.
  • The trustees noted plans for reordering work stations so that staff across the Forums, who are involved in the delivery of the Faith Action Programme, could work more closely with one another. The work required to accommodate these changes in working arrangements would come within budget and, with the introduction of hybrid working, would also serve to help inform future office needs.
  • The Pioneer Mission Fund has potential to deliver something larger than individual projects and might relate to training for particular types of ministry. The trustees will consider it at a more visionary level this autumn.
  • The trustees are considering a reduction in the number and length of trustee meetings in order to reduce pressure on trustees and staff whilst continuing to ensure that ordinary matters of administration are properly kept under review by the Governance Group and thereby allowing time for deeper discussions of emerging issues at trustee meetings. It is envisaged that there may be no more than eight meetings each year.
  • The next meeting of the trustees will be on 14 October. The Governance Group will meet on 9 September.

Assembly Trustees Update July 2021

  • The Trustees met on 8 July, preceded by a coffee Hub with staff.
  • The agenda included sessions with representatives of the Faith Impact Forum and of the Faith Nurture Forum on specific topics.
  • Reflecting on the papers before them, the trustees were of the view that success as a church was not only measured by bringing people into a church building on a Sunday morning but by creating the right conditions for people to meet God and become part of the work of the Church in that way.
  • A recurring theme throughout the day was the critical importance of straightforward and relevant messages to presbyteries and congregations.
  • On ministries, the need for greater support for ministers, at almost all stages of development, was recognised with, perhaps, stronger mentoring of those in early stages as well as identifying what barriers there were for otherwise ideal candidates in coming forward. As many people as possible had to be enabled to participate in ministry.
  • On National Office work, staff could not be asked to do more than they were doing at present, and this meant that prioritisation was critical.  Outstanding deliverances required to be appraised and a paper will be brought to the trustees identifying areas which had not been actioned and which were of increasingly marginal relevance to the way in which the church was developing.  Plans were being developed to progress the workstreams that were agreed at the GA taking into account all stakeholders including the local church as well as the national offices.  Congregations needed to be enthused about new ways of being church and the work of pioneering ministries would be an important consideration.
  • The principal discussion with the representatives of the Faith Impact Forum was to hear about the progress on the Net Zero by 2030 work.   A particular goal was to produce a pathway for congregations.  This was not to be a tool just for ministers and was recognised as an ideal way to get young people involved.  There is much information available from Eco Congregations Scotland and congregations would be directed to that.  Barry Hughes will be the Assembly Trustee representative on the group.
  • The principal discussion with the representatives of the Faith Nurture Forum was to discuss work on presbytery plans. It was essential that the Presbytery Planning Task Group included representatives from presbyteries as well as staff and Forum members.  Clearly there were challenges to presbyteries and congregations in coming to terms with the new Act and guidance, thinking in missional terms and looking holistically. It is possible that a small group from across the church who have expertise in presbytery planning might be brought together to be involved as consultants.   A programme of engagement for clusters of presbyteries was being rolled out and this had been shared with the Chair of the Presbytery Clerks' Forum.
  • On congregational finances, there was an increase, year on year, in the number of congregations with a shortfall in contributions to date.  The overall receipts to the end of June were of a similar proportion to those for 2020, but at a lower level of request.  An increased number of congregations had failed to submit congregational accounts to date with the remainder being followed up. It was recognised that there could be individual reasons for the delays, including the impact of Covid, compared to previous years.
  • The trustees' constitution imposes a duty to develop and maintain a policy on the level of reserves to be held for operational purposes. The present target is to maintain an unrestricted reserve representing three months' expenditure (excluding Faith Nurture) but the trustees are aware that it might be prudent to aim to increase this to 6 months. As part of this work it is essential for the trustees to be aware as to which reserves are properly to be considered unrestricted and work on this has been ongoing for some years until interrupted by Covid-19. The funds review will now move forward to final consultation and completion, with the treatment of reserves simplified and made transparent. Thereafter, and going forward, the trustees will consider for what expenditure unrestricted reserves are required and the minimum period considered appropriate.
  • The success of congregations in obtaining grants from the Scottish Government's "Adapt and Thrive" scheme was noted.  An overall sum of £470k had been sourced to date.
  • The timetable for Budget 2023 will enable it to be brought to the trustees in November, with outline proposals for later years brought to the trustees in February 2022.
  • The Remit and Terms of Reference for the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group have been finalised. The trustees consider that the remit provides a sound foundation for everyone to build a pragmatic programme with a focus on leadership and behaviours. As a Task Group of the trustees, all proposed workstreams will be approved by the trustees. A communications plan will be created to support sharing information about this workstream and to encourage engagement.
  • New liaison trusteeships have been finalised. It is a matter of good governance for every charitable trustee to have a reasonably detailed relationship with a part of the charitable organisation so that, when it is necessary to take decisions affecting that part, decisions are taken with practical understanding.  The essence of the position of a Liaison Trustee is to be a friend of the Agency in question, to be an occasional observer at meetings and if necessary to be a conduit to relay concerns of an Agency to the Assembly Trustees. The Liaison Trustee can take no part in line management or in operational decision making. Within that framework, it will be a matter for an Agency to discuss with the Assembly Trustees as to what will be the best way of operating the relationship.
  • The next meeting will be on 12 August.

Assembly Trustees Update June 2021

  • The Trustees met on 10 June. The new trustees, David Cameron, Barry Hughes and Peter McEnhill and the new Chair of the General Trustees, Ian Townsend, were welcomed.
  • Reflecting on Assembly 2021, it was felt that much of the success in achieving agreement on a wide range of major issues should be attributed to staff involvement. It was noted that the remote operation of the Assembly had resulted in many advantages, but also that a number of significant matters raised little debate. Whilst the level of support for the proposals was conclusive the debate might have been impacted by the hesitancy for some in using the technology.
  • It was clear, however, that consistent and supportive communications messaging was required to encourage congregations to look to the future with hope and confidence and that the great changes for congregations and ministries can be seen in a positive light
  • Although the trustees will not report on any changes to the National Offices until Assembly 2023, work on preparation for the eventual plan will begin immediately with a review of earlier external consultancy work
  • The Training Task Group have completed research and discussion with academic providers and will now finalise a vision statement to determine the way forward for academic and related training. The reduction of ministries by 2025 will require a realignment of full-time ministries with other forms of ministry and this will have to be accommodated within proposals. Evangelism had to be at the forefront.
  • On Congregational Finances, it was noted that shortfalls still outstanding from 2020 were at a higher level than those from 2019 when compared to this time last year and, with many significant adjustments likely to be occurring, the way in which shortfalls were treated might require review
  • With the Chief Officer, the trustees agreed that some of the high-priority project-related work of the National Office would benefit from the development of a programmatic approach as an enabler to the delivery of the agreed targets from General Assembly 2021. This approach would incorporate the assessment of both work requirements and prioritisation. A Project Programme structure is being finalised.
  • Budgetary control within the National Offices remains important, especially in respect of the policy on expenses and on the further centralisation of procurement
  • The national webinar programme has proven to be highly popular and the webinar group has been strongly supported by the local ministry. Many of the events have been widely attended and with significant subsequent participation. It was commended as having a very green footprint and a wider reach than previous roadshows and conferences.
  • The success of congregations in obtaining grants from the Scottish Government's "Adapt and Thrive" scheme was noted.  An overall sum of £470k had been sourced
  • Initial work on the Pioneer Mission Fund was underway.

Assembly Trustees Update May 2021

  • The Trustees met on 13 May
  • Scott Shackleton, the newly appointed Head of Faith Action Programme, was welcomed to his first meeting
  • The financial sustainability of many congregations remains a great concern and the present work of the Congregational Sustainability task group is in responding to those who have requested support, trying to identify those most in need as a result of the pandemic
  • The trustees will give emphasis to the need to look pastorally at congregations whose ministers were exhausted by the challenges of the pandemic
  • The trustees engaged with the Principal Clerk and the Chief Officer in a presentation and open discussion on their Vision paper "A Narrative for the Future". The purpose of the paper is to suggest a matrix for a shareable, memorable, and forward moving approach so that the whole church can enjoy working together in leadership and hopefulness. The trustees agreed that these ideas should be taken forward as a priority.
  • The trustees met with the Chair and project manager of the new Equality Diversity and Inclusion Task Group to consider the likely work streams going forward. It was agreed that there should be a programme of work identifying priorities, resources and work packages to inform the agenda for the next few years.
  • The trustees met with Kenny Roger, Middle East Secretary, to receive an update of the position for the entities in Israel. Kenny indicated that he was in constant contact with local staff to see how best they could be supported but that there was little which could be done from Scotland other than be in touch as much as possible.
  • The hotel at Tiberias had opened about two months earlier and had enjoyed high occupancy and income with all staff having returned; albeit all staff were staying at the hotel because it was too dangerous for them to travel from their homes to the hotel.
  • The Jerusalem guest house had opened for events, but bookings were now being cancelled. John McCulloch, the Minister of St. Andrew’s Jerusalem, was staying at the guest house but his family were in Scotland and unlikely to join him there.
  • The school at Tabeetha was now closed because of the possibility of missile attacks. Staff were staying at home.
  • The work to find a replacement manager for the hotel at Tiberias was on hold as it was necessary to have face-to-face interviews
  • With the Chief Officer, the trustees noted his important work in meeting with Children, Youth and Family Workers
  • The trustees approved the reinforcement of systems for providing pastoral support to those in ministry
  • After the General Assembly there will be Open Forum meetings to discuss outcomes from Assembly 2021. With the Chief Officer and Catherine Skinner, the trustees are creating a programmed approach to the prioritisation of workstreams.
  • The trustees paid tribute to colleagues retiring: Alan Campbell, Beth Ashcroft, Norma Rolls and Raymond Young
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 10 June when newly appointed trustees will be welcomed.

Assembly Trustees Update April 2021

  • The Trustees met on 15 April
  • The appointment of Scott Shackleton to the new post of Head of Faith Action Programme was welcomed; as was the commitment of Angus Mathieson and Ian Alexander in helping with a smooth transition
  • The new Trustees replacing Beth Ashcroft, Alan Campbell and Norma Rolls will be David Cameron, Minister of New Laigh, Kilmarnock, Barry Hughes, Minister of St Mark’s Stirling and Peter McEnhill, Clerk of the new Clyde Presbytery. David will bring a broad understanding of the challenges facing the national Church, Barry a connection with Priority Areas and Peter the work of the Presbytery Clerks. This brings the Trustee body to the maximum number of Ministers and creates a less balanced position on gender and the Trustees will bear these points in mind when advertising for applications in 2022.
  • A protective level of maintenance and repair on 121 was approved. This will be £100k up until the latter part of 2022 by which time the Trustees will have engaged in the detailed appraisal of proposals to be taken to GA23 as to proposals for the National Offices.
  • The Annual Report and Accounts for 2020 have been completed and, at a very difficult time, present a firm picture of the financial state of the Church going forward. The work of the General Treasurer’s department in managing this presentation for the whole Church was deeply appreciated.
  • One of the greatest concerns remains congregational sustainability for many which are struggling financially. Whilst the General Treasurer and Chief Officer deal with frequent calls the Congregational Sustainability Task Group and the Trustees’ Economic and Financial Oversight Task Group are working to create strategies for such congregations.
  • The Trustees met with some of the originating members of the Trustees’ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group to discuss the ongoing work in setting up the Group. Discussions will continue as to the possible terms of a Remit and Terms of Reference. Philip Ziegler will join the Group as the Assembly Trustee member. Membership details, the Remit and Terms of Reference will be finalised at the May meeting of the Trustees.
  • It is anticipated that priority teams will return to 121 in July. The Trustees noted that there had been a staff survey of anticipated working patterns with a high response level. A reasoned and systematic approach will be taken as to how, in accordance with Government advice, to identify the most appropriate response to mixed working patterns both in supporting staff in their diverse preferences and identifying how best to ensure a new culture of working which provided effective interaction.
  • The Trustees received an update on successful applications to the Adapt and Thrive fund which was very encouraging. Arrangements to launch the Church of Scotland Small Grants fund in May 2021 were also tabled.
  • The Trustees noted the terms of the Report to Assembly and the proposed Supplementary Report
  • Revised guidance on the restricted use of Zoom has been approved
  • Feedback has been received that indicates limited awareness of when new Trustee Updates are issued in some areas of the Church. Arrangements to improve communication of new updates and where they can be located will be developed. The intent is to improve awareness that such communications have been issued for both those with Church of Scotland email addresses and others from our various Forums and Committees who use private email addresses.
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 13 May when any last-minute preparations for General Assembly will be finalised.

Papers and Reports

In May 2020 the Trustees produced an account of the work they have carried out in the year since their creation at the General Assembly 2019. The report records the trajectory being set by the Trustees prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as the new challenges and opportunities the Church now faces.

May 2020 Report

In lieu of a report to the General Assembly in May, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Assembly Trustees created an abbreviated account of the work they carried out in the year since their appointment at the General Assembly of 2019. This report, and an accompanying webinar, can be viewed on the May 2020 Update Report page.

Update on 'D10' March 2021

An update on the work of the D10 group, which has been looking at deliverance 10 from October's General Assembly and is now building on constructive and helpful input given by consultees.

Extended report of the D10 Group

This extended version of D10's Report to the Assembly Trustees of the Church of Scotland, which shows the Group's detailed working from which its Report - an Appendix to the Trustees' Report to the General Assembly May 2022 – was derived.

The Trustees

Very Rev Dr John Chalmers

Very Rev Dr John Chalmers


Parish minister, former Principal Clerk, Moderator, and Convener of World Mission Council.

David Harrison

Vice Convener

Member at Garelochhead, Deputy Chairman of Loganair with significant experience as a Finance Director, Chief Executive and Executive Chairman.

James McNeill

James McNeill

Administrative Trustee

Elder, Special Commission on Structural Reform, expertise in charity law and experience in various charitable organisations.

Rev Aniko Schuetz Bradwell

Rev Anikó Schuetz Bradwell

Parish minister in East Lothian, worked internationally with ecumenical organisations, the Church and Society Council, served on the Ecumenical Relations Committee and the World Mission Council, and represented the Church of Scotland at the WCRC.

David Cameron

Rev David Cameron

Minister of New Laigh Kirk, Kilmarnock who brings both parish ministry experience and an understanding of the challenges facing the National Church as Trustee and Convener of a number General Assembly, Presbytery Committees and Local Community Organisations.

Jean Couper

Jean Couper CBE

Member at Cathcart Trinity Church, Glasgow, and previously an Elder at Orchardhill Parish Church, management consultant specialising in strategic HR, with board experience of numerous public, private and third sector organisations.

Barry Hughes

Rev Barry Hughes

Barry is the Minister at St Mark’s Raploch, a Priority Area parish in Stirling. He was previously an Ordained Local Minister in Peebles, and worked for 25 years in the financial services industry. He also has extensive experience in the voluntary sector, principally with Scouts Scotland.

Linda Irvine

Elder at Dalziel St Andrew’s Parish Church, Motherwell, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Membership and Engagement with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Reverend Donald McCorkindale

Rev Donald McCorkindale

Convener of the Assembly Business Committee, Presbytery Clerk in Lochaber, Parish Minister: Strontian linked with Ardgour & Kingairloch, linked with Morvern. Trustee of several local community groups. Former member of Board of Parish Education and Ministries Council.

Geoff Miller

Elder at St Margaret’s, Glenrothes, Group Finance Director for Tullis Russell Group Limited.

Ann Nelson smiling

Ann Nelson

Member at Davidson’s Mains, Edinburgh and served on Kirk Session and in other capacities. High-level legal and management experience in and through the Scottish Parliament and Civil Service (now retired), non-executive experience in the third sector, including on national church bodies.

Headshot of Philip Ziegler

Philip Ziegler

Professor of Christian Dogmatics at the University of Aberdeen and associated with the Session of the Cathedral Church of St Machar's, Phil has many years' experience in ecumenical and theological education for ministry in the Kirk and before that in the United Church of Canada.


Rev Dr Peter McEnhill

Clerk for the new Clyde Presbytery, brings a valuable connection to Presbytery Reform.

Reform in the Church of Scotland