Assembly Trustees Update April and May 2023
The Trustees met on 6 April, 20 April and 11 May, three shorter meetings instead of two longer ones.
At these meetings, we finalised the Annual Report and Accounts for 2022 ready for submission to the General Assembly and to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator for publication. The report includes, as always, a reminder of how the Church is described in this context, of the charity's objectives, and of the principal work of the charity trustees – the Assembly Trustees – in using the charity's assets for its charitable objects.
The trustees have overall responsibility, as charity trustees, for CrossReach and we had a presentation from Viv Dickenson, CrossReach's Chief Executive Officer, reminding us of its scale – 1,600 staff and more than 350 volunteers – and updating us on the attention the CrossReach Board has given to the top matters on its risk register and the particular singularities around each of the social care sectors in which CrossReach works. We approved a Memorandum of Understanding with CrossReach and agreed that the recent Task Group should remain in order to critique an implementation plan to be prepared by staff. We were pleased to note that constructive steps are being taken to enhance CrossReach's visibility.
From the Head of Faith Action Programme, we were updated on a wide range of work, including ‘business as usual' items and highlights such as the Lego Easter Story (Gaelic and English), ‘Windows on the Resurrection', the Jewish Christian Glossary completion and the ongoing progress on ‘Net Zero'. We noted that going forward the Faith Action Programme had three headline priorities which align with those set by the Assembly Trustees. These are ministries recruitment, integrated training and new worshipping communities, and the arrangements for ensuring as smooth a transition as possible in the event of the Assembly approving the arrangements for and appointments to the new Faith Action Programme Leadership Team and Programme Groups.
As regards the building at ‘121', we are reporting to the Assembly, and as part of that continued to hear from the Chief Officer and Head of Estates and Procurement about progress in generating income. This included the extension of two existing leases and a new let. Appropriate ‘income generation' is an important part of our strategy in addressing the financial challenges that the Church faces.
We also had an update from the Church Statistician about the tools for modelling financial and other statistics. These allow various elements and interactions to be considered together, such as between congregational income, national income and national expenditure. The data is being updated based on the figures in the Annual Report and Accounts, and work will be done to assess what can be factored in and when from Presbyteries, and, for example, to take account of new worshipping communities.
Our devotions at these meetings have focussed on Moses, Nehemiah and ‘unless the Lord…'. At the burning bush, God told Moses to bring His people out of Egypt. Knowing whose we are and whom we serve, the Church is called to do all we can to bring hope to people in bad life situations today. God calls on his people to pray – to persist in prayer – and be responsible in service. Nehemiah had prayed for months, and been at his work, when, on a particular occasion, the King noted his demeanour. Nehemiah, when asked, knew what he needed, and God's bonus was that the heart of the King changed. The King gave Nehemiah more than he asked for his mission to promote the welfare of the Israelites. Healthy churches are the beating hearts of our communities. As a Church have we the love, courage, and creativity to bring people to faith and see revived, refreshed communities? Finally, as Assembly Trustees we are continuing to build on the work of the Special Commission approved by the General Assembly. Since it is the Lord who builds the house, and Jesus Christ is the sure foundation, then we are not to eat the bread of anxious toil, but rather exude peace, freedom and joy. In focussing on the articulation and implementation of priorities, our role is to discern how we help God build the house, and rely on the Holy Spirit to be at work through vision, governance, the Faith Action Programme, Presbyteries, congregations.
As trustees we look forward to meeting with many across the Church at and through the General Assembly.