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 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.

Assembly Trustees Update March 2021

  • The Trustees met on 11 March
  • The Chief Officer and the Webinar Group have given detailed thought to what might assist ministers at this stage of coping with the pressures of the pandemic. Possible Webinar presenters, target audiences, themes and prioritisation have been identified and a manageable programme will be developed.
  • A particular cause for concern remains that of congregations which are struggling financially. There are some local initiatives and congregations able to do so offering financial support to the worst affected. At national level, the Chief Officer is establishing a Congregational Sustainability Task Group, and the Trustees’ Economic and Financial Oversight Task Group considers it important for the National Offices to identify particular ways of supporting local treasurers in the nature of their role and perhaps with the development of a tool kit for them.
  • A further cause for concern is CrossReach and the impact of the pandemic on front line staff and residents, on overall management and on budgeting. The Trustees met with the Convener and CEO to discuss how best to respond to these issues and to build on the close relationships which have developed over the past year.
  • The Trustees approved the proposals of the Stewardship Team for a National Day of Giving during Harvest
  • Budget 2022 will require to continue in recovery mode as congregational returns indicate a drop in local income of 20% much of which will be letting income. The Trustees have agreed an appropriate amount to seek from congregations. This will be greater than that for 2021 (£38m) but the call on congregations cannot return to pre-COVID-19 levels (£46m) at this stage. The Trustees will ask Assembly to approve the sum of £42m. This will still result in a deficit of £3.5m at the very least, in addition to the deficit budget for CrossReach which will be identified in April. Forum budgets will require to remain frozen at the level agreed for 2021 and the stringent cost control will have to remain in place, especially when more normal work patterns resume.
  • The Trustees have accepted the principal proposals of the M&M Review Group as meeting the Assembly’s request for a more transparent system, but recognise that at a time when congregational finances are severely depressed it would be inappropriate to attempt to implement a new system. They will seek General Assembly approval for the new scheme but with operational details provided to Assembly 2022 with a view to a possible commencement in January 2023 if adequate financial stability has emerged.
  • The Trustees’ engagement with the Faith Impact Forum and with the Church of Scotland Investors Trust as to issues in respect of ethical investment policy has resulted in agreement as to the position to be presented to Assembly 2021
  • In preparing reports for Assembly 2021, the Trustees together with the General Trustees have engaged with the Faith Impact Forum to explore the best ways of identifying the very real support of the Church to a ‘Net Zero by 2030’ approach with a commitment which the Church at every level has the personal and financial resources to meet
  • An External Communications Review paper has been approved
  • The ongoing work of the Special Group to report on the most effective way of working at national level was discussed and the considerable assistance from consultees was welcomed. It was agreed that especially given the wide spectrum of views, and other current changes, Assembly 2021 was not the proper time for structural change. Nonetheless, the Trustees agreed that valuable lessons had been learned from the work of the D10 Group and would be recommending to the General Assembly that the work of the Group should be taken forward collaboratively in the autumn with those consulted. A D10 Update that includes what the Group reported to the Trustees is published on the Church website alongside this update. The Trustees also agreed that the overall transformational changes that are already in train should continue. The Trustees will report accordingly to the Assembly in May with a view to a final report being brought to the Assembly of 2022.
  • There have been ten applicants to replace the three outgoing Trustees. A strong field comprises five ministers and five elders
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 15 April when the draft Annual Report and Accounts will be finalised.

Assembly Trustees Update February 2021

11 February Update

  • The Trustees met on 11 February
  • The new post of Head of Faith Action Programme has been advertised
  • Advertisements will go out seeking new trustees to take the places of those original trustees who must retire at General Assembly 2021
  • David Harrison will become Vice-Convener in June in succession to Norma Rolls. Linda Irvine will become Convener of the Central Services Committee.
  • The Trustees met with Russell Barr, convener of the Ministries and Mission Review Group to discuss current proposals and the finalisation of proposals to be made to General Assembly 2021. It was agreed that the scheme should have clarity in showing congregations how much they were paying for their own ministry, allow congregations which were able to do so the possibility of using funds for growing their own mission, and provide adequate support for congregations whose access to financial support was extremely limited.
  • The Trustees met with the Principal Clerk and with Russell Barr to discuss the emerging picture of the varying needs of the different new Presbyteries and how central funding was to be provided. The General Treasurer and Beth Ashcroft were asked to explore further how best to identify a system and, if possible, to bring interim suggestions to the trustees' meeting on 24 February.
  • With the Principal Clerk, the trustees discussed the need for revised legislation in order to provide more focussed planning through five-year rolling plans with five-year plans for ministry numbers
  • Congregational sustainability remains a concern
  • The trustees approved the outline of New Grant Scheme for 2021
  • A draft Communications strategy will come to the next meeting of the trustees
  • Investment Policy, the trustees noted that there had been a meeting of the Faith Impact Forum and the Church of Scotland Investors Trust and that further meetings were anticipated, with proposals coming to ensuing meetings as to the approach to be taken at General Assembly 2021
  • As part of this year’s Internal Audit, the trustees will work with the auditors in identifying the necessary elements for a validated self-assessment of their work
  • Due to the quantity of business there will be an additional meeting of the Trustees on 24 February when representatives of the Faith Nurture Forum will attend.

24 February Update

  • The Trustees met on 24 February
  • The ongoing work of the Special Group to report on the most effective way of working at national level was discussed and the considerable assistance from consultees was noted
  • As requested by the auditors of the Israeli entities, the Trustees confirmed their financial support for the ensuing year
  • The Trustees continue in discussion with the Salvesen Trustees as to the potential variation of the terms of the Salvesen Bequest to reflect changing circumstances for the work of the Church outwith the UK
  • The Trustees continue to engage with the Faith Impact Forum and with the Church of Scotland Investors Trust as to issues in respect of ethical investment policy which will be presented to General Assembly 2021
  • As the Trustees attempt to discern, and in due course to suggest to General Assembly 2021, a vision for an appropriate route after lockdown, it is clear that the work of the New Presbytery Staffing and Funding Group and that of the M&M Review Group are critically interlinked. The work of each of these will be appraised as the Trustees prepare their report for the General Assembly.
  • The Trustees then considered, with the Chief Officer and with members of the Faith Nurture Forum, the emerging issues in relation to identifying appropriate numbers of ministries for the purposes of presbytery planning. The number of ministries found to be affordable was 600 as at 2025, with Ordained National Ministers and Ministries Development Staff being treated interchangeably. In addition, there was an allowance of 10% for vacancies. The most difficult issues being addressed are regarding weightings across the country and in Priority Areas. It was agreed that the present situation was unsustainable, with too many vacancies and an insufficient availability of locum ministers. A new way of working was essential.
  • There was much discussion as to the stresses and other issues emerging among staff in the national offices as a result of new ways of working. New systems are being considered such as attempting to reduce volumes of work, possibly establishing protected periods of time where no one should be required to be at a meeting and establishing an appropriate system for return to work.
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 11 March when draft Assembly Reports and the draft Annual Report and Accounts will be finalised.

Assembly Trustees Update January 2021

  • The Trustees met on 14 January
  • The application pack for the new post of Head of Faith Action Programme has been agreed with the Forums and will be advertised
  • The Trustees met with Ruth MacLeod, Head of Communications to discuss current operations and the need for a review of strategies and policies
  • The Trustees met with the Middle East Secretary to discuss the current situation in Israel, proposals for re-opening when permitted and the process to recruit a new manager of the Scots Hotel
  • Congregational sustainability remains a concern and a task group is being established to work with Presbyteries and support Priority Areas
  • The final adjustments have been made to the Budget for 2021 and the Trustees welcome that target levels have been agreed with the Forums. Work will now commence on creating the five-year plan.
  • The Trustees note that required target reductions in cost for the National Offices have been met and appreciate that this process has been both sensitive and difficult. Anticipated reductions in congregational income and uncertainties regarding the full cost to CrossReach of the pandemic mean that all sectors of the Church’s work require vigilance in working to budget.
  • The trustees have approved the terms of a detailed protocol for the safe and compliant use of Zoom video-conferencing for departments and officials working within the remit of the Central Services Committee. Any use of Zoom must be in accordance with this protocol and any other use of Zoom is precluded. The default for all video-conferenced meetings remains Microsoft Teams, and staff wishing to use another platform must first evidence why Teams is not suitable for their purposes.
  • The Trustees agreed with the Chief Officer that concerns over communication security required consideration of best practices in multi-factor authentication
  • The Trustees have approved the establishment of a permanent Equality Diversity and Inclusion Group, to sit under the remit of the Trustees, and endorsed the commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion both publicly and internally
  • The process to find new trustees to take the places of those whose non-renewable term expires in May is beginning
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 11 February.

Assembly Trustees Update December 2020

  • The Trustees met on 10 December
  • Philip Ziegler has taken up appointment as an Assembly Trustee. An ordained minister associated with the Kirk Session of St Machar’s and Professor of Christian Dogmatics at the University of Aberdeen, he has many years' experience in ecumenical and theological education for ministry in the Kirk and before that in the United Church of Canada.
  • The Trustees and CSC staff had a remote coffee and chat, with pairs of Trustees in break-out groups with three or four staff
  • The Trustees have had meetings with the Forums and will have further meetings in the new year
  • The Trustees met with the Principal Clerk to discuss current priorities shared with the Office of the General Assembly. It was agreed that Presbytery reform and clarity as to appropriate funding are the most urgent areas of work.
  • The Training task group is presently focussing on education and training for full time ministry of Word and Sacrament
  • The new post of Head of Faith Action Programme, to co-ordinate the administrative work of the two Forums and to deliver the Faith Action Plan, will be advertised in January
  • Congregational sustainability remains a concern and a task group will be established to work with Presbyteries and support Priority Areas
  • Stewardship and income generation will be given particular support
  • The Trustees have approved the Budget for 2021 which will draw on reserves by £11.5m. Congregational income will be constrained through the 18% reduction and although central costs are being reduced as required by General Assembly the costs of parish ministry stipends and salaries remain substantial. The draw from reserves will support the character of the Church’s national profile, its advocacy work and overseas partnerships.
  • To contain the deficit and preserve cash flow, expenditure restrictions will remain in place during 2021 and proposed expenditure not within the budget will require to be supported by a robust business case
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 14 January.

Assembly Trustees Update November 2020

  • The Trustees met on 12 November
  • Nine applications to fill the trustee vacancy were received and three will be asked to interview
  • The New Presbyteries Funding and Staffing Task Group has commenced work
  • The Task Group charged with considering the most effective and efficient structure for delivery of work from the national base will start consultations. It will seek to identify what areas of work are essential to the Church today and which should be managed and delivered from/supported by the Church’s national base.
  • The remit of the Training task group will encompass the whole Church, both recognised ministries and the wider church family
  • The Trustees are proceeding to appoint to a new post of Head of Faith Action to co-ordinate the administrative work of the two Forums
  • M&M contributions continue to fall due to the impact of Covid-19, and it is difficult to accurately predict the outcome for both the current year and 2021. It is clear that some congregations are struggling financially, and Presbyteries will be the first point of contact.
  • Budget 2021 will have to fund a significant deficit from reserves and it will be necessary to identify what work must be restricted at this stage
  • The proposed interim system for funding pilot schemes will be progressed in December
  • The Trustees approved the formation of a Research and Analysis Department in order to develop its own evidence base to ensure that resources are used in a targeted fashion and for the best return
  • The Trustees have approved the creation of an appropriate  unit with responsibility for oversight of all grant payments through a consistent approach
  • The Trustees met with CrossReach and expressed their admiration for the work done in 2020. The Trustees, CrossReach and the Solicitor will work on the most systematic way of taking forward budgeting and delegated authority.
  • The Trustees are working with the group established to take forward work on Equalities and Inclusion to work towards a more equal, diverse and inclusive organisation
  • It is hoped that the current prohibition on the use of Zoom at a national level will be removed in early course for specific agreed situations
  • The trustees will hold a virtual ‘Away-day’ on Thursday 19 November
  • The Trustees will meet with each Forum via Teams on Friday 20 November
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 10 December, preceded by a virtual coffee-time with Staff.

Assembly Trustees Update October 2020

  • The Trustees met on 8 October
  • Steps to find a replacement for Jamie Lockhart, who has resigned as a trustee due to pressure of work commitments, will start immediately
  • The October General Assembly was thought to have been successful in allowing a restricted number of matters to be addressed and in providing helpful operational information should General Assembly 2021 need to be held remotely. Issues raised for the trustees were being taken forward.
  • A small group will start work on examination of the possible management and delivery of the national faith based work programme through a single Forum
  • The proposed interim system for funding pilot schemes will be considered in November
  • Discussions will be commenced with Edinburgh Presbytery to identify whether there are buildings or land available to house the National Offices as part of the study on the options for future office location and a small task group will be formed to co-ordinate this
  • It is unlikely that staff other than those required to undertake critical office based tasks will return to the George Street offices before March 2021
  • M&M contributions continue to fall and it is predicted that the outcome for the year may be a shortfall of some 7%-9%
  • The Trustees met with Julie Main, Safeguarding Service Manager, to receive an update on the work of the Service. The importance of having records held electronically and centrally and the shape of staffing of safeguarding as part of Presbytery planning were discussed.
  • A special task group is being set up to consider funding and employment arrangements for new Presbyteries
  • The group established to take forward work on the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy has started its work
  • The Training task group has held its first meeting and the remit will be finalised in November
  • It is hoped that the current prohibition on the use of Zoom at a national level will be removed in early course as the necessary arrangements for safe use are finalised
  • The trustees will hold an ‘away day’ in November to discuss emerging issues
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 12 November.

Assembly Trustees Update September 2020

  • The Trustees met on 10 September
  • On national income, there has been a drop of 5.7% in M&M contributions to July but it remains difficult to predict the outcome for the year. Forums had made significant progress in seeking to attain target reductions but the process will be challenging.
  • Given the effects of the pandemic, M&M contributions will be reduced by 18% in 2021. Overall, the draw on national reserves in 2021 will be £8m
  • The 2019 accounts have received a clean audit and are approved. The Audit Committee complimented the staff of the Stewardship and Finance department for their work during trying circumstances
  • Final proposals for the overall budget for 2021 will be presented in November
  • Following the Voluntary Exit Scheme and the prioritisation of work as instructed by the General Assembly, there is a need to review skills placement across the Central Services Committee (CSC) to ensure that staffing structures are adequate for desired outputs. This is against the backdrop of a reduced budget and therefore internal recruitment and development will be the preferred route where possible.
  • Online Church is an urgent matter both at national and at congregational level and a joint approach among departments will be facilitated
  • The trustees will continue to meet with CrossReach as regards their strategic proposals for 2021
  • A steering group will be established to take forward work on the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy
  • The Trustees again discussed the current prohibition on the use of Zoom at a national level and this will be taken further at the October meeting
  • The Trustees will work with the directors of the Israel Entities in identifying the appropriate ways to find a new manager at the Scots Hotel, Tiberias
  • The next meeting of the Trustees will be on 8 October.

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

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

Elder 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.

Ian Townsend

Ian Townsend

An Elder at Arbroath: Old and Abbey, Chair of the General Trustees and a retired Chartered Surveyor.

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