Commission to consider presbytery plan

Proposals to create three new presbyteries and other matters are being considered by the Commission of Assembly.

The body is making these decisions because the General Assembly has been cancelled this year due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The Commission will consider business that is deemed “straight forward, non-controversial and time-sensitive”.

General Assembly
The General Assembly

Commissioners decided last May that the number of presbyteries should be reduced from 45 to around 12 as part of a three-year Radical Action Plan.

The proposed three new Presbyteries will be:

  • The Presbytery of Fife, made up of the existing Presbyteries of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and St Andrews
  • The Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland, merging the Presbyteries of Aberdeen and Shetland
  • The Presbytery of Clyde, merging Dumbarton and Greenock & Paisley.

The Commission will also be asked to approve the appointment of Rev Dr Martin Fair as the Moderator of the General Assembly for 2020-21, as well as agreeing measures to streamline the governance of certain councils such as CrossReach, committees and trusts.

Due to the cancellation of the 2020 General Assembly and restrictions on normal Moderatorial at present, Dr Fair will begin his year at home in Arbroath with the situation being reviewed as circumstances alter.

If elected, he will be “available for Moderatorial duties as required and there will be a review of this situation in the summer or as conditions allow”.

Non-controversial

Rev Dr George J Whyte, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly, said: “The Church cannot meet in General Assembly this year but there are some decisions which would normally be taken by the Assembly and which need to be taken at this time, rather than wait until the next 2021.

“We have characterised those decisions as ‘straightforward, time-critical and non-controversial’.

“Papers have therefore been sent out to members of the Commission of Assembly asking them to approve certain items of business.

“The methodology proposed is that if a member of the Commission agrees to these proposals they need take no action.”

“If sufficient members request that a particular matter be discussed, the Clerks of Assembly will seek to arrange a virtual meeting of the Commission, to be held on Saturday May 16 2020 or the matter may be held over until later in the year.”

“We hope in this way to keep the Church’s business moving on as regards these important matters.”

Download the paperwork sent out to members of the Commission.