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Act 21, 2022 – Training for Ministry

  1. The General Assembly, seeking to give further clarification to Act 1, Class 2, March 2022 Commission of Assembly regarding Training for Ministry, enact and ordain as follows:

SECTION A – TRAINING GENERAL

1.Definitions. The General Assembly note the following definition of terms related to training:

1.1 Foundation Training: a Training Programme for men and women involving various aspects of church life, but not necessarily leading to pastoral ministry.

1.2 Core Training: a Training Programme that is specifically intended to prepare men for pastoral ministry.

1.3 Specialist Training: additional Training that may supplement Core Training, such as training for Church Planting, or cross-cultural mission.

1.4 Ministry Apprentice: a participant on a Foundation Training Programme.

1.5 Minister-in Training. The term Minister-in-Training refers to a Candidate for the Free Church ministry placed in a congregation as part of their Core Training Programme.

1.6 Training Church. The term Training Church refers to a local congregation where a Candidate for the Ministry is placed as part of their training for pastoral ministry programme.

2.Priorities. The General Assembly endorse the following priorities for Core Training:

2.1 A Confessional Educationat Edinburgh Theological Seminary.

2.2 Practical Training in a local church.

2.3 Robust Expectations in Assessment and Accountability.

2.4 Pastoral Care at every stage.

2.5 Excellent Administration at Board, Presbyteries and Congregations.

2.6 Provision of Resources to support training.

2.7 Sustainable Finances for the Church and the individual. 

3. Oversight of Training. The Board of Ministry will have overall oversight of the training of Candidates for Free Church Ministry. In terms of the provision of Core Training, the Board of Ministry will:

3.1 Ensure there is good communication to and between Candidates, Training Churches, and Presbyteries.

3.2 Provide a curriculum of Training Seminars for Minister-in-Training. (See Section 2)

3.3 Provide regular training for Ministers/Assistant Minsters who have or intend to have Minister-in-Training in their congregations.

3.4 Ensure that Training Churches are meeting the expectations set out in this Deliverance.

3.5 Ensure that Presbyteries are meeting the expectations set out in this Deliverance.

3.6 Ensure that ETS is providing an appropriate theological education for training Candidates for ministry.

3.7 Provide assessment and reporting structures for Ministers-in-Training and Training Churches.

3.8 Facilitate partnership across Training Churches and Presbyteries.

3.9 Provide resources to help develop training across the denomination.

4. Training Components. The General Assembly adopts the following four key components of the Training Programme for Minister-in-Training:

4.1 Learning from others.

4.2 Preaching to others.

4.3 Serving with others.

4.4 Placement among others.

5.Training Outcomes. The General Assembly endorse the identification of Character, Convictions, Competence and Cooperation as a summary of the Scriptural outcomes for training for pastoral ministry.

6. Training Period. The General Assembly instruct that the normal period for training will be four years, during which a Candidate will normally study the BTh programme at ETS and serve as a Minister-in-Training at a Training Church.

6.1 The Board of Ministry may from time to time, and in consultation with ETS, extend the training period to five or six years.

6.2 The Board of Ministry may also set a training programme of three years full-time study without a placement in a Training Church as a Minister-in-Training if the applicant is over the age of 30 and has extensive experience of being involved in congregational life.

6.3 In exceptional circumstances when a Candidate has prior theological education, the Board of Ministry, in consultation with ETS, may set an individual study programme in place of the full BTh course.

6.4 All Candidates must complete the Presbyterian Church Ministry Module.

6.5 Candidates must attend a minimum of 40% of classes at ETS in person across the whole of their course.

6.6 The Board of Ministry and the ETS Centre for Mission will partner to provide regular training seminars each year which Candidates are required to attend.

SECTION B – MINISTER-IN-TRAINING

1.Expectation of a Candidate. The General Assembly adopt the following as the expectations of a Candidate for the Ministry on a Core Training Programme:

1.1 Candidates for Ministry will be under the oversight of their local Presbytery.

1.2 Candidates will complete the annual examination required by a local Presbytery.

1.3 Candidates serving as Ministers-in-Training will be expected to become members of the congregation where they are serving and thus under the oversight of the Presbytery within whose bounds the congregation lies.

1.4 Candidates will be required to complete a theological education at ETS.  This will normally be the BTh programme, but some exceptions may be made by the Board of Ministry in accordance with Act 23, Class 2, 2021.

1.5 Candidates will be expected to participate actively in the life of the local congregation where they serve as a Minister-in-Training.

1.6 Candidates are to preach at least 10 times per year.

1.7 Candidates will be expected to move into the local area served by the congregation where they are a Minister-in-Training.

1.8 Candidates will adhere to all requirements in relation to compliance.

1.9 Candidates will be expected to follow the financial arrangements set by the Board of Ministry and Board of Trustees.

1.10 Candidates will be expected to complete the assessment and record keeping requirements set by the Board of Ministry.

1.11 Candidates will complete a summer placement in a vacant congregation as part of their training. This will be regarded as equivalent to the ‘second placement’ and will be undertaken in accordance with the requirements of Act 21, Class 2, 2001 – Act anent Student Placements.  Placement in a Training Church as a Minster-in-Training will be considered as functioning in place of the ‘first placement’.

1.12 Training for Candidates from North America will remain under the provisions made in Act 30, Class, 2017 anent Theological Training for North America Candidates for the Ministry.

2. Transition to Candidacy. The General Assembly instruct that if an individual applies to become a Candidate having already begun a theological education at ETS, the Board of Ministry will normally require additional church-based training to be undertaken after completing studies at ETS if there is not sufficient time left to combine theological study with a Minister-in-Training role at a Training Church.  This will normally be for a minimum of one year and will normally require moving to a different congregation.

3. General Provisions. The Board of Ministry will ensure that no application for ministry will be prejudiced if applications made by a Candidate for financial grants are unsuccessful. The Board of Ministry will also ensure that no Candidate for Ministry is disadvantaged during their training programme due to their position on Public Worship.

SECTION C – TRAINING CHURCHES AND PRESBYTERIES

1.Training Church – Expectations. The General Assembly adopt the following as the expectations of a Training Church:

1.1 A commitment to the principles and priorities set out in the Introduction of the Board of Ministry’s Training for Ministry document.

1.2 A commitment to allow adequate time for a Candidate’s theological studies.

1.3 A commitment to allow Candidates to participate in the Training Seminars and other training elements provided by the Board of Ministry.

1.4 A commitment to provide Candidates with a good variety of live ministry opportunities with appropriate support, feedback and responsibility.

1.5 A clear plan for the pastoral support, mentoring and discipling of the Candidate.

1.6 A commitment to be willing to set aside some of the Minister/Assistant Minister’s time to meet regularly with the Candidate for training purposes.

1.7 A commitment to allow for a progression of responsibility during the period of training.

1.8 A commitment to adhere to all employment and compliance requirements.

1.9 Evidence of adequate financial resources for the duration of the programme and a commitment to meet the minimum financial commitments set by the Board of Ministry and Board of Trustees.

1.10 A commitment to complete the Assessment and Reporting requirements set by the Board of Ministry.

1.11 A commitment to receive feedback and recommendations for the Board of Ministry for developing training in the local church.

1.12 For Training Churches outwith commuting distance to ETS, local Deacons’ Courts are instructed to consider whether they can offer financial support to help cover travel expenses for the occasions when Candidates need to attend classes in person.

2. Training Church Initial Steps. The General Assembly instruct that if a congregation wishes to serve as a Training Church, the following initial steps should be taken:

2.1 The Kirk Session will meet to discuss the expectations for local Churches set out in the Training for Ministry: Expectations for Candidates, Congregations and Presbyteries document, and confirm a commitment to meet these.

2.2 The Deacons’ Court will meet to confirm willingness and ability to meet the financial commitments involved.

2.3 The Kirk Session will then inform the Board of Ministry and the local Presbytery that they wish to be considered as a potential Training Church. Representatives of the Kirk Session will meet with representatives of the Board of Ministry to confirm the congregation’s commitment to meet the expectations for a Training Church set out above.

2.4 The Board of Ministry Student Team will meet quarterly with the Conveners of Presbytery Committees responsible for training to monitor the implementation of the Training Programme in Training Churches.

3.Training Church – Vacancy. The General Assembly instruct that vacant congregations will not be eligible to have a Minister-in-Training to be placed there while the vacancy is ongoing. In the event of a Training Church becoming vacant while a Minister-in-Training is in place, local Presbyteries, in consultation with the Board of Ministry, must ensure that adequate arrangements are made for the ongoing training of the Candidate.

4.Full-time Working. The General Assembly instruct that Ministers-in-Training are not to be given responsibilities equivalent to a full-time worker while their theological studies are not completed.  This would include having main responsibility for leading a Church Plant, looking after a vacant congregation, or leading a part of a linked charge.

5. Eldership. A Training Church may elect a Minister-in-Training as an Elder in the congregation.

6.Presbyteries. The General Assembly adopt the following expectations for Presbyteries regarding Minsters in Training:

6.1 Training is to be regularly prayed for and discussed at ordinary meetings of Presbytery, both in terms of an earnest pleading with the Lord of the harvest to raise up workers and in terms of sharing best practice and mutually encouraging one another.

6.2 Presbyteries will include the development of training within their CPD programmes.

6.3 Presbyteries shall appoint mentors for Candidates for Ministry under their care in accordance with Act 23, Class 2, 2021 anent Journey into Ministry (2021) (Mentors will usually, but do not need to, be members of the Presbytery.) 

6.4 Presbyteries, in consultation with Training Churches and the Board of Ministry, shall ensure that pastoral care is in place for Candidates’ wives.

6.5 Presbytery shall undertake annual Presbytery examinations of Candidates according to the guidelines provided by the Board of Ministry.

6.6 Presbyteries must receive reports from ETS, the Training Church and the Board of Ministry on each Candidate under their care in accordance with Act 23, Class 2, 2021 anent Journey into Ministry.

6.7 Presbyteries should include Ministers in Training at their ordinary meetings (excluding items taken in camera).

SECTION D – PLACEMENT OF CANDIDATES IN TRAINING CONGREGATIONS

1.The General Assembly instruct that when deciding in which congregation a Candidate for the Ministry is placed as a Minister-in-Training, discussions should take place between the Candidate (and wife), the Kirk Session of the potential Training Church, the Presbytery under whose oversight the Candidate is currently placed, and the Board of Ministry.

1.1 In the initial stages, informal conversations should take place between the Candidate and the potential Training Church and the Student Team of the Board of Ministry.

1.2 If the Candidate and potential Training Church agree, the Candidate should inform his current Presbytery and the Board of Ministry.

1.3 The Presbytery (or Student Committee thereof) should meet with both Candidate and the Minister of the potential Training Church.  If the Presbytery is in favour of the placement, they should inform the Board of Ministry.

1.4 The Board of Ministry (or representatives thereof) should meet with both Candidate and the Minister of the potential Training Church.  The Board must be satisfied that the Training Church is able to meet the expectations of the Training Programme set out above.

1.5 Normally, the decision for where a Candidate will be placed should be made before 31st January of the year in which the Candidate expects to begin working at the Training Church.

2. Training Needs. The training needs of each Candidate will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  The Board of Ministry recognises the importance of giving Candidates opportunities to gain experience across the different settings within the denomination during the training process.  The following pathways are examples of potential options to achieve this goal:

2.1 A Candidate may serve in two congregations. For example, a Candidate who has been in his home congregation for many years may stay in this congregation for the first year or two of his training period before moving to a new training church for the final two or three years of his training.  Normally at least one of these congregations will be within commuting distance of ETS.

2.2 A Candidate may serve in one new congregation. If a Candidate moves to a new congregation near the start of his training programme as a Minister-in-Training he would normally remain there for the duration of the programme, provided he can fulfil the in-person attendance requirements at ETS.

2.3 A Candidate may serve in their home congregation. In exceptional circumstances, a Candidate who already has broad ministry experience in a variety of settings may remain in his home congregation for the duration of the training programme, provided he can fulfil the in-person attendance requirements at ETS and can provide satisfactory evidence to the Board of Ministry that such an arrangement is in the best interests of his training.

3.Final Decision. The final decision for where a Candidate will be placed lies with the Board of Ministry.

SECTION E – PASTORAL CARE AND ADMINISTRATION

1.The General Assembly instruct that there are two key roles involved in caring for Candidates on the training programme; each Minister-in-Training will be assigned a Training Church Supervisor and a Presbytery Mentor.

1.1 Training Church Supervisor. The Training Church Supervisor will be the primary contact with the Minister-in-Training, both in terms of supervising their weekly work and in nurturing growth and maturity in spiritual life of the Candidate.

1.1.1 The Training Church Supervisor who will also be functioning as Line Manager. 

1.1.2 Training Church Supervisors (Line Managers) will normally be the Minister/Assistant Minster of a Training Church but may also be another suitably qualified person connected to the Training Church.

1.1.3 Training Church Supervisors will meet with Ministers-in-Training for dedicated Line Management meetings every two months.

 1.1.4 Training Church Supervisors will follow Line Management guidelines provided by the Board of Ministry.

1.1.5 Training Church Supervisors will complete an annual Character and Competency Assessment Framework provided by the Board of Ministry as part of the annual report submitted by the Training Church in accordance with Act 23, Class 2, 2021.

1.2 Presbytery Mentor. The Presbytery Mentor will provide additional contact and support, ensuring that a meaningful pastoral contact is maintained between the candidate and their Presbytery. This role is equivalent to the Training Mentor appointed by Presbyteries in accordance with Act 23, Class 2, 2021.

1.2.1 Presbyteries may appoint the Training Church Supervisor to serve as Presbytery Mentor, but in this situation, the Presbytery must also appoint an additional contact person in the Presbytery who must contact the Candidate at least four times per year. (Usually this will be the Convener of the Presbytery committee responsible for training of Candidates).

1.2.2 The Board of Ministry will provide guidelines for the Presbytery Mentors of Candidates/Ministers-in-Training.

2. Pastoral Care. The Board of Ministry will ensure that appropriate pastoral care is provided for Candidates wives in partnership with local Presbyteries.

3. Employment. The General Assembly instruct that Ministers-in-Training be employed by their Training Church according to the contract template provided by the Free Church Offices and in accordance with the Financial Model set out by the Board of Ministry and Board of Trustees.

SECTION F – FINANCING TRAINING

1.Minister-in-Training Funding. Funding for the Minister-in-Training will come from three sources:

1.1 Paid Employment. The Minister-in-Training will be paid a salary by the Training Church

1.1.1 Employed Hours. Ministers-in-Training will typically be employed by the Training Church for 10 to 15 hours per week. These hours will be used for pastoral work and preparation and administration related to activities in the Training Church.

1.1.2 Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will make budgetary provision annually to allow for Training Churches with Ministers-in-Training to receive a grant towards the Minister-in-Training’s salary.

1.1.3 Board of Ministry. The Board of Ministry will have responsibility for managing the awarding of grants for the Training Programme. The grant must be used only as a contribution towards the cost of the Minister-in-Training’s salary. 

1.1.4 Training Church. The Training Church will contribute towards the Minister-in-Training’s salary on top of the grant received from the Board of Ministry. It will ensure that the Minister-in-Training is paid above the minimum wage for his contracted hours.

1.2 External Funding. The Minister-in-Training will apply for funding from external grant giving bodies and trusts, with assistance from the Training Church and the Board of Ministry.

1.3 Personal Contributions. The Minister-in-Training will raise some of their annual budget from their own personal funds, which may include donations from private and personal supporters.

1.4 Funding Target. The combination of the three sources of funding should normally result in annual income of at least 60% of stipend.

2. Hardship Fund. A hardship fund will be used to help Ministers-in-Training who need additional financial support.

2.1 Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will make budgetary provision for the Hardship Fund.

2.2 Board of Ministry. The Board of Ministry will have responsibility for managing the awarding of support from the Hardship Fund each year. An application form will be provided.

2.3 Criteria. Support will be means tested on the basis of family income and savings. Priority will be given to a Minister-in-Training with dependent children, and to those who need help with housing costs. Evidence of attempts to secure other funding will be expected.

3. Other. The following stipulations also apply:

3.1 Eligibility. Only individuals who have been recognised by the Board of Ministry as Candidates for Free Church Ministry will be eligible for support under the financial provisions of the Training Programme.

3.2 Student Fees. Students for the Free Church ministry who meet the required criteria will receive funding from SAAS for their student fees at ETS. The Board of Ministry will pay the student fees for Ministers-in-Training if they are not eligible for SAAS funding.

3.3 Other Training. Ministers-in-Training will not be charged for training and supervision and support provided by the Training Church and the Board of Ministry.

3.4 Students without a Training Church. Students without a Training Church may be awarded a reduced grant at the discretion of the Board of Ministry.

3.5 Student Loans. If students are eligible to take out a student loan, and chose to do so, they are responsible for repaying the loan if their income goes above the repayment threshold. 

SECTION G – REVIEW AND REPEAL

1.Review. The General Assembly instruct the Board of Ministry to review this new Training Model after 4 years and a report given to the 2026 General Assembly.

2. Repeal. The General Assembly repeal Act 3, Class 2, March 2022 Commission of Assembly.