Providing ministry to the huge variety of parishes around Scotland is no easy task. The Church of Scotland is required by constitution to provide the 'ordinances of religion' to every part of the country, and it has achieved this successfully by dividing the country into parishes which each have a parish minister, who may have responsibility for a single parish or for two or more neighbouring parishes.
There is often a need for other forms of ministry as well, and Mission Development Staff can be appointed to work alongside the parish minister. These might include associate ministers, auxiliary ministers and ordained local ministers, readers, deacons, parish assistants, young people's and family workers, all of which amounts to a rich variety of skills and talents deployed around the country.
Matching ministries to parish needs
It has always been a challenge to match up the availability of ministers and other types of ministry with the variety of needs of each parish. Some of the issues to be considered are:
- Ensuring there are enough ministers for all the parishes in the future
- What specialist ministries congregations might need
- Fitting team ministry into new patterns of congregational life
- Ensuring ministry is available to all parts of the country, and not concentrated in some regions
- Providing ministry for the Gaelic community
- Giving extra support to the most deprived parishes, through the Priority Areas Team
- Ensuring there is a local church in new housing developments
- Providing ministry and church fellowship for people who do not have any immediate contact with a local church
There are not always easy answers, but there is always enthusiasm to engage with the issues and listen to those who are involved with congregations all over the country.