Assembly agrees 14-person trustee body

The General Assembly has agreed that 14 people will become Assembly Trustees, and will head the governance structure of the Church of Scotland.

A selection committee convened by Very Rev Russell Barr presented the General Assembly with the names of 12 trustees. The Convener of the General Assembly Business Committee and the Convener of the General Trustees will also sit on the trustee body making the total number of trustees 14.

Assembly Hall

Members will serve for three, two and one-year terms to ensure continuity as well as change.

Commissioners rejected an amendment by Dr Alison Elliot regretting the lack of gender balance on the new trustee body and urging the nominations committee to seek equal numbers of men and women for 2020. Diversity in age was also discussed as well as the potential influence of a Church 'establishment'.

Commissioners agreed on the following list of trustees who will begin their terms in June.

Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, Convener (3 years)

(Parish minister, Principal Clerk, Moderator, Convener of World Mission Council)

Mrs Norma Rolls, Vice Convener (2 years)

(Session Clerk, head teacher Mary Erskine's School, Convener of Governance Group on Council of Assembly)

James McNeill QC, Administrative Trustee (3 years)

(Elder, Procurator to the General Assembly, Special Commission on Structural Reform, expertise in charity law with wide experience in various charitable organisations)

Alan Campbell CBE (2 years)

(Elder, Chief Executive Aberdeenshire Council and Grampian Regional Council, Chair of the future of Fisheries Management in Scotland, member of Accounts Commission)

Jamie Lockhart (3 years)

(Chair, YMCA Scotland, professional expertise in charity law, finance and governance, involved with Edinburgh Campus Ministry)

Rev Anikó Schuetz Bradwell (3 years)

(Parish minister, Church and Society Council, Ecumenical Relations, World Mission Council, represented Church of Scotland at WCRC)

Rev Dr George Cowie (2 years)

(Parish minister, Presbytery Clerk, Convener Legal Questions Committee)

Dr Gary MacFarlane MBE (1 year)

(Elder, GP, member of Scottish Government working groups on Performance Management, Health Board roles and responsibilities, Joint Working group on purchasing, runs Designed to Succeed working with 35 congregations on project management)

David Watt (1 year)

(Elder, accountant with KPMG, Vice Convener of Council of Assembly and Convener of Finance Group)

Sandra Carter (1 year)

(Elder, CEO Voluntary Action Fund, Trustee of Faith in Older People, Chair of Faith in Community Scotland)

Very Rev Professor lain Torrance (1 year)

(President Princeton Theological Seminary, Pro-Chancellor University of Aberdeen, Moderator, Convener of Theological Form)

Professor Brian Ashcroft (2 years)

(Fellow of Royal Society, Edinburgh, Professor of Economics University of Strathclyde, Director of Policy Fraser of Allander Institute)

Rev Fiona Smith

(A former lawyer, Fiona was later called to ministry and now serves as Convener of the General Assembly Business Committee as well as in parish ministry at Ness Bank Church in Inverness.)

Raymond K Young CBE

(An architect who helped create innovative approaches to community housing development in Glasgow, Raymond is currently Chair of the General Trustees.)

The Assembly Trustees will appoint a chief officer to oversee the professional staff of the Church.

The new governing structure comes after a Special Commission, convened by Professor David Fergusson, concluded that the existing structures could not deliver the radical changes needed by the Church, and called for a new trustee body.

Delivering the report, Professor Fergusson said:

"It is a programme of establishing a strong trustee body at the centre of the Church but also devolving power and resources to the regions and parishes.

"The Council of Assembly found it difficult to function as a trustee body because council conveners were voting members and they experienced a conflict of interest."

Professor Fergusson said some tough decisions to reduce staffing levels will have to be taken because they are at the same level as 20 years ago when the Church was much bigger.

"We have to act responsibly in relation to the money that people give very generously," he added.

"The Trustees will be a more powerful body than the Council of Assembly, there will be greater transparency and accountability and it will answer to the General Assembly."