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Act 23, 2022 – Pastoral Teams and Related Matters

The General Assembly, recognising the pressures of the work of full-time ministry, and desiring to update and revise arrangements for the support of ministers and their wives and families, enact and ordain as follows to coordinate with the work of the Board of Ministry and its Pastoral Team:

1.Presbytery Pastoral Team. The General Assembly instruct each Presbytery to appoint a team to provide pastoral care for Ministers and their wives and families. The Team will be called the Presbytery Pastoral Team (PPT).

1.1 Remit. The PPT will have the responsibility for making suitable provision for the guidance and counselling of Ministers within the bounds of the Presbytery and for their wives and families as required.

1.2 Membership. The membership of the PPT will be appointed by the Presbytery. The composition will include two ministers, (one of whom will be the Mentoring Coordinator) with additional members made up of those who possess relevant professional and pastoral experience, including at least one female member.

1.3 Referrals. Ministers and their families shall be encouraged to consult with the PPT in situations of personal need. The PPT should be advised of cases of sickness and domestic difficulties to permit them to take the initiative in offering and providing necessary support for the Minister and his family.

1.4 Reporting. The PPT shall report in general terms to the Presbytery at least twice a year.

2. Pastoral Care Guidelines. The Board of Ministry will produce and keep under review Pastoral Care Guidelines for the Church. The Presbytery will ensure that all its members, as well as members of the PPT, are aware of, and have access, to the pastoral care guidelines document.

3. Mentoring. Mentoring is a longer running relationship where a more experienced Minister (or Elder) is encouraged to meet regularly with a younger, or less experienced colleague, to disciple, encourage, advise, and support.  The practice of mentoring is a way of developing stronger spiritual relationships, support, and accountability.

3.1 Mentoring Coordinator. The General Assembly instruct each Presbytery to appoint to their PPT a Minister of Presbytery with special responsibility to oversee mentoring arrangements of Ministers within their bounds and keep a record of arrangements made. Such a member shall be known as the Presbytery Mentoring Coordinator, and he shall have responsibilities in the following areas:

3.2.1 To liaise with the Mission Board on the appointment of newly ordained Ministers to ensure the appointment of a coach.  (The plan for Gospel coaching is to provide church planters, ministers in their first congregation and ministers on the Development Track to have a coach)

3.2.2 To ensure that each Minister in the Presbytery who is not being coached, has a Mentor appointed.  This can be done in liaison with the various parties involved.

3.2.3 To ensure that all Mentors within the Presbytery are aware of their responsibilities and have been given the mentoring guidelines – produced by the Board of Ministry for the whole denomination.

3.2.4 To ensure that line managers, and supervisors of Presbytery Workers or Ministry Support Workers have access to the same guidelines.

3.2.5 To informally review the effectiveness of the mentoring relationships, and report to the Presbytery and the Board of Ministry annually as to progress or improvements needed.

4. Coaching. The General Assembly recognise the role that Gospel Coaches alongside the mentoring programme. The Gospel Coach is a Minister in the Free Church who has undertaken coaching training under the auspices of the Mission Board. The Gospel Coach may also be a similarly trained Minister outwith the Free Church, known and approved by the Mission Board.

4.1 The Purpose. Gospel coaching aims to promote intentional Gospel conversations with focused discussions about a leaders relational, personal, missional, and spiritual life.

4.2 Scope. Gospel Coaches will be appointed for Church Planters, newly ordained Ministers, and Ministers who have taken part in the Mission Board Church Development programmes. 

4.3 Short-term Coaches. Gospel Coaches will also be available to Ministers who request such support at different stages in life and ministry.

4.4 Appointment. The Presbytery, before the ordination and induction of a Minister to his first pastoral charge, shall appoint a Gospel Coach in consultation with the Mission Board and the parties involved. The new Minister will meet regularly with the Coach during the first two years of his ministry to discuss progress, challenges, and opportunities.  Oversight and training of coaches to be provided by the Mission Board.

5. Restrictions. The following restrictions will apply to newly inducted and ordained Ministers.

5.1 Presbytery Appointments. Presbyteries shall not normally appoint Ministers in the first three years of their ministry to be Moderator of Presbytery or to be appointed as Interim-Moderator of a congregation. In the event of exceptional circumstances where it is necessary to appoint such a Minister as an Interim-Moderator, the appointment shall be for one year only with the opportunity for renewal at the end of the year if the same circumstances obtain. In such cases the Presbytery, when making or renewing such an appointment, shall record in their minutes the reasons for their doing so.

5.2 Mission Board – Development Track. Ministers of congregations on the Mission Board Development Track and in Church Planting appointments shall not be appointed as Interim-Moderator during the first five years of their appointments except in special circumstances. When such circumstances are deemed to exist, the details should be recorded as in Paragraph 4.1 above and reported to the supervising Assembly Committee.

5.3 Boards and Committees. A Minister shall not normally be appointed a member of a General Assembly Board or Committee during the first three years of his ministry. Where, under exceptional circumstances, a minister is nominated for such an appointment during the first three years of his ministry, the Nominations Committee shall record the reasons in their minutes, and the circumstances shall be reported to the General Assembly.

6. Repeals. The General Assembly repeal Act 24, Class 2, 2003, as amended by Act 12, Class 2, 2013.