Special Commission seeks your views

Views from across the Church of Scotland are being sought to help shape the future of the Church.

In 2018 the General Assembly instructed the Council of Assembly to return in 2019 with a radical action plan to guide the Church through a time of change. At the same time, presbyteries and kirk sessions were urged to pray, listen to God’s call and reflect together on their mission and vision for the next three years.

In October 2018, a Commission of Assembly created a Special Commission on governance to make recommendations designed to ensure the Church’s national structure is ‘lean and fit for purpose to lead reform’. That commission has been meeting with council members and presbyteries representatives.

Now the Special Commission wants to hear from the wider membership of the Church of Scotland and has posed the questions below.

Your opinion matters

  • How well do the councils and committees of the Church of Scotland serve our local congregations?
  • How can we best coordinate the work of the church offices at 121 George Street with that of our presbyteries and congregations?
  • Are there ways in which the General Assembly might become more effective in providing oversight, establishing key priorities, and facilitating the mission of the local church?
  • How might the relationship between presbyteries and the General Assembly be developed?
  • Can we learn from best practice in the secular world in relation to governance of charitable bodies?

Please send your responses to arrive by 18 February 2019:

  • By email: Nomi Pritz (npritz@exseed.ed.ac.uk)
  • By post: Marked as 'strictly private and confidential' to Nomy Pritz, School of Divinity, New College, University of Edinburgh, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX

What is the Special Commission's remit?

Following a decision of the Commission of the General Assembly on 3 October 2018, a Special Commission of five people, independent of the councils of the Church, was appointed ‘to consider the matters within the following remit, to consult widely and to report to the General Assembly of 2019'.

  1. To review the governance structures of the Church of Scotland Charity number SCO11353 and make recommendations for a trustee body which would conform to best practice (including the avoidance of conflicts of interest) in terms of charity law while being true to Presbyterian church polity.
  2. To recommend key principles for a national structure which is “lean and fit for purpose to lead reform” (General Assembly 2018) and which would ensure that the General Assembly can effectively and efficiently direct its councils and committees so that they prioritise their work and resources to support the mission of the local Church.
  3. To recommend what further work should be done to embed these principles and review the current pattern of councils and committees in order that these might better focus on the Church’s understanding of its vocation to be a national church engaged in mission.

Who are the members of the Special Commission?

The five members of the Special Commission are Rev Professor David Fergusson (New College, Convener), Sarah Davidson (Scottish Government), Right Rev Peter Forster (Bishop of Chester), James McNeill QC, and Morag Ross QC. Nomi Pritz (PhD student at New College) is acting as secretary and research assistant to the group.