Panel on Review and Reform

Our remit

The Panel on Review and Reform was established in 2004 and is charged by the General Assembly with articulating God's vision of what a Church in need of continual renewal might become and is committed to offering pathways by which congregations, Presbyteries and Agencies of the Church might travel towards that vision.

A fundamental task for the Panel is a very simple one but important one – to listen! The Panel seeks to listen to the voices of congregations, Presbyteries, Agencies and those beyond the Church of Scotland.

The 2013 General Assembly agreed to amend the Panel's remit as follows:

Through such interaction, consultation and discussion with congregations, Presbyteries, Councils and Agencies of the Church as may be decided upon by the Panel, formulate and bring before successive General Assemblies:

(a) a clear statement of the long-term vision of the Church, and

(b) paths and developments which might be followed by congregations, Presbyteries, Councils and Agencies of the Church to make such a vision a reality.

In seeking to consider the changing needs, challenges and responsibilities of the Church, the Panel is tasked with having a particular regard to the Gospel imperative of priority for the poor, needy and marginalised.

Church without Walls

At the heart of the Church without Walls report of 2001 was the aim to change mind-sets:

  • From Church focus to Christ focus
  • From settled Church to a Church as a movement
  • From a culture of guilt to a culture of grace
  • From running congregations to building communities
  • From isolation to interdependence
  • From top down Church to upside down Church
  • From centralised resources to development resources
  • From faith as security to faith as risk

The Panel continues to endorse the key principles behind this report.

Previous Work

The Panel has engaged in listening, consulting and offering proposals to the Church. It is not the role of the Panel to implement such proposals, but to encourage and inspire others in the Church to do so.

You can find out more about our previous work by selecting the links below:


Alternative Presbytery Structure

Ongoing Work

The Panel has now begun work on the new section of the remit as given to it by the 2013 General Assembly. This is a major and exciting task and the Panel will be consulting widely in order to bring it to fruition.

The Panel has also been exploring the following areas:

Scenario Planning

In many fields of enterprise the tool of scenario planning has been highly effective in presenting organisations with a range of probable options regarding their future and so provides them with the ability to respond effectively to change.

Basically, through gathering together those who understand the organisation and the environment in which it operates, a series of stories is created. Through continual monitoring of these stories against present conditions it becomes possible for the organisation to identify which stories begin to correspond to them and so make appropriate changes quickly to safeguard its future. The Panel secured the services of a leading academic in this field to facilitate such an exercise for the Church and focussed on responses to the digital age. The Panel brought together a group of 20 people from across the wide spectrum of the Church to take part in producing four scenarios which might help the church consider how it might respond appropriately to the challenges faced...

Four scenarios were drawn up for use by Kirk Sessions and others in leadership.

Four scenarios resources

Path of Renewal

In partnership with Ministries Council and the Mission and Discipleship Council the Panel are working to develop a process which will help churches move from using a maintenance approach to a missional one. Rather than sit and create this on paper, a pilot process with 36 congregations and one parish grouping has been set up.& Through this the Panel hope to discern the kind of support which will best support congregations as they seek to make appropriate changes and re-focus on our core calling.

Path of renewal pilot

Pilot with Vacant Congregations

Some work has been completed looking at how leadership might be provided for congregations who do not have a minister. Consultations with a number of Presbyteries has been held and the solution the Panel had suggested for moving congregations into Guardianship and developing a local team does not look as if it will work. Further work on this will; be carried out by the Panel in 2016/17


The Panel have reviewed previous reports which have been presented to the General Assembly on Leadership in particular the Ministers of the Gospel Report and the Church without Walls report. The Panel have concluded that it is not more reports which are required but discernment about how to implement what has already been written about and agreed. The Panel will work further with Mission and Discipleship and Ministries Council in an effort to ascertain the 'levers of change' which can be used to bring the desired changes.

Read the Panel's report on this to the 2016 General Assembly.

Study and research

In the course of its work, the Panel on Review and Reform produces various papers and summaries of books. A selection of these is available to download in our resources section. It is hoped these will be of use to anyone considering the future of the Church, perhaps as part of the Church without Walls initiative.

Our membership

The Panel on Review and Reform is made up of 10 members appointed by the General Assembly. The ecumenical officer attends panel meetings on behalf of the Committee on Ecumenical Relations, but does not have the right to vote or make a motion to the panel. The convener is the Rev Graham Duffin and the vice convener is the Rev David C Cameron. In common with other departments, the Panel is able to co-opt others to assist with particular areas of work as appropriate

Contact for more information

For more information please email Graham Duffin or contact us at the Church's offices in Edinburgh, 0131 225 5722
The Panel usually meets on the first Wednesday of June, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April and May. Unless otherwise stated, all meetings will take place at the Church offices at 121 George Street, Edinburgh.


Minutes from Panel on Review and Reform meetings: