Assembly Trustees Update October 2023
The trustees met online on 12 October 2023.
In our oversight role, we usually have a range of updates on specific areas of activity. This month, among other things, we checked on progress in implementing the sections of deliverances from GA23 that involve us, and on the national office's priorities project. We also had one of our periodic updates from Viv Dickenson, the Chief Executive Officer of CrossReach, learning in some detail of the strategic planning process in which they are currently engaged, their work on the financial front, the state of play with the Scottish Government's proposed National Care Service and their involvement in both the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry and the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.
We attended to a point of detail concerning the Seeds for Growth Fund, in relation to presbyteries where the Presbytery Mission Plan intended to be complete in December 2022 is not yet in place.
The General Assembly in 2023 agreed that those who are Assembly Trustees should also serve as Salvesen Trustees. That is a separate trust which, as it is within the Church's ‘unincorporated entities' (‘UE'), is under the overall responsibility of the Assembly Trustees, the charity trustees for the ‘UE'. The Salvesen Trustees had met in September and we noted their minutes. At the meeting the Salvesen Trustees, being new to the role, had a wide-ranging discussion as they sought to get to grips with their responsibilities, the nature of the funding decisions to be taken and the working processes to be developed. The Trust's purpose was changed earlier this year, following a successful application to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. It is to ‘provide support to the Church of Scotland in its work as it labours, itself or through its partner Churches, organisations, or communities, for the advancement of the Kingdom of God throughout the world (but outwith the United Kingdom and Channel Islands) through Christian worship, fellowship, instruction, mission and service.' In making spending decisions from the trust this is the purpose that the Salvesen Trustees must consider.
In October each year we have a look at the forward budgets. When we reported to the General Assembly in 2023 we had a serious story to tell, and the picture does not look significantly better. More work is to be done before we finalise the budgets in December and we will say more after that.
At our meeting, as well as our discussions with Viv Dickenson, we heard from Tommy MacNeil about the early days in the life of the Faith Action Programme Leadership Team, established in May this year. Our meeting was just days after the current crisis erupted in Israel and Gaza and our thoughts and prayers were with the Church's mission partners, returning to the UK, and staff in the church's establishments in Israel.
We next meet on 9 November. This will be onsite at 121 George Street and will include some induction and refresher training.