Act 6, 2014 (VI) – Act anent Modification of the Structure of Boards and Committees. 23rd May 2014. (As amended by Act 12, 2015 (XII) – Act authorising the appointment of Deacons as members of the Board of Trustees and other matters; Act 17, 2016 (XVII) – Act anent Membership of the Board of Ministry; Act 12, 2019 (XII) – Act anent Principal Clerk and Membership of the Board of Trustees; Act 15, 2019 (XV) – Act anent Membership ETS Board); and Act 8, 2020 – Amending Act 6, Class 2, 2014 regarding the Membership of the Board of Ministry)

1. The General Assembly endorse the proposals relating to the modification of its committee structure contained in the report of the Board of Trustees. They enact that from May 2014 the work of the Assembly between their meetings shall be prosecuted by the following committees and boards:

1.1 Board of Trustees to discharge the functions of the Board of Trustees as presently constituted; to continue to have members of the Board appointed as directors of the Free Church of Scotland General Trustees’ Limited; and to assume oversight of an Executive Office comprising the following functions:

1.1.1 Administrative Office to monitor and prepare regular reports on financial performance; to oversee the annual budgeting process; to keep under review matters of legal compliance and risk management; and to provide general administrative support to the Church.

The Board shall receive regular reports on financial performance, legal compliance and risk management from the Administrative Office and shall allocate time within its meetings for consideration of these.

1.1.2 Assembly Clerks’ Office to make all arrangements for the General Assembly and perform any other functions presently discharged by the Assembly Arrangements Committee reporting directly to the General Assembly in relation to matters connected with the conduct of business at meetings of the General Assembly or meetings of the Commission of Assembly; to receive nominations from Presbyteries for vacancies on committees and boards when they occur, and, following consultation with the relevant committee or board, to make recommendations from these submissions, through the Board, to the General Assembly; to advise on matters of Church practice and procedure in light of the rules and procedures laid down in The Practice and in Church legislation and to initiate reviews of the practice or procedures of the Church where these might benefit from modification; to maintain formal relationships with other churches and ecclesiastical bodies; and, in the case of the Principal Clerk of Assembly, to act as Custodier of Titles.

Any proposals from the Assembly Clerks’ Office to modify Church practice or procedures shall be reported to the General Assembly through the Board. The Assembly Clerks’ Office shall be at liberty to enlist additional assistance as required, and at its discretion, to assist with the fulfilment of the various aspects of its remit.

1.1.3 Media Office to manage relationships with the media, acting as the primary contact point for media enquiries and sourcing comment from appropriate personnel within the Church; to exercise oversight of the Church’s website including matters of design and content and similarly to oversee and develop the Church’s social media presence; to oversee denominational publications; to identify issues of contemporary interest and importance, develop position papers on such issues and communicate the same effectively to internal and external audiences; and, more generally, to facilitate the flow of information around the Church with a view to stimulating interest and involvement in the Church’s work.

1.1.4 Membership: Twelve members comprising at least four ministers and at least six office bearers of whom up to two might be deacons. Members shall be appointed by the General Assembly for a four-year term, renewable for one further term of four years. The General Assembly shall appoint one of the Board, who shall always be an elder, as Chairman, for a four-year term, renewable for one further term of four years. The quorum shall be three Trustees. The Principal Clerk of Assembly ex officio is appointed as adviser to the Board.

1.2 Board of Ministry to discharge the functions of the Board of Ministry as presently constituted; to assume oversight of matters relating to the working conditions of ministers and other personnel, excluding those connected with the Free Church Offices and the Free Church College; to work with Presbyteries in seeking to further equip ministers and others in areas such as mentoring, leadership and management skills; to consult with Presbyteries and the missions boards in assessing and specifying training needs for ministry candidates in the areas of knowledge, skills and character and to develop appropriate delivery mechanisms prior to, during, and following a formal academic training programme; and to assume responsibility for issues currently remitted to the Panel of Pastoral Advice.

1.2.1 With reference to the provision of pastoral care and advice, the Board of Ministry shall be at liberty to enlist such additional expertise from around the Church as might be required to deal with situations as they arise.

1.2.2 The Student Finance Scheme shall be overseen by the Board of Ministry in consultation with the Chief Administrative Officer.

1.2.3 Membership: Ten members in total including the Principal of Edinburgh Theological Seminary ex officio, one additional member of the College Senate appointed annually by them on an ex officio basis, and one additional member who shall be a minister in a Training Congregation nominated by the Board of Ministry. The remaining membership shall comprise three ministers and four elders appointed by the General Assembly for a four-year term renewable for one further term of four years. The Chairman shall be appointed from the membership of the Board by the General Assembly for a four-year term, renewable for one further term of four years. The quorum shall be three members of the Board. The Board shall be empowered to appoint Consultants and Advisors as required, particularly to liaise closely with the Mission Board and to assist with interviews and other functions of the Board.

1.3 Home Missions Board to discharge the functions of the Home Missions Board as presently constituted and to assume responsibility for developing appropriate denominational partnerships as well as partnerships with other organisations and agencies in order to enhance the Church’s ability to reach out with the Gospel.

1.3.1 Membership: Eight members in total comprising four ministers and four elders appointed by the General Assembly for a four year term renewable for one further term of four years. The Chairman shall be appointed from the membership of the Board by the General Assembly for a four year term, renewable for one further term of four years. The quorum shall be three members of the Board.

1.4 International Missions Board to discharge the functions of the International Missions Board as presently constituted and to assume responsibility for developing appropriate partnerships with overseas denominations, as well as partnerships with other organisations and agencies, in order to enhance the Church’s ability to reach out with the Gospel.

1.4.1 Membership: Eight members in total comprising four ministers and four elders appointed by the General Assembly for a four year term renewable for one further term of four years. The Chairman shall be appointed from the membership of the Board by the General Assembly for a four year term, renewable for one further term of four years. The quorum shall be three members of the Board.

1.5 College Board to discharge the functions of the College Board as presently constituted.

1.5.1 Membership: Nine members including the College Principal, one member of the College Senate, the Chairman of the Board of Ministry and the President of the Students’ Representative Council, all ex officio. The remaining membership shall comprise two elders and three ministers appointed by the General Assembly for a four year term renewable for one further term of four years. Elders appointed to the College Board shall have suitable qualifications or experience in education, preferably tertiary education, or in the administration or promotion of education. The Chairman shall be appointed from the membership of the Board by the General Assembly for a four year term, renewable for one further term of four years. The Chairman shall not be a member of the College Senate. The quorum shall be three members of the Board.

1.6 Psalmody and Praise Committee to discharge the combined functions of the Psalmody Committee and the Special Committee on Praise.

1.6.1 Membership: Six members in total comprising at least two ministers and at least two elders appointed by the General Assembly for a four year term renewable for one further term of four years. The Convener shall be appointed from the membership of the Committee by the General Assembly for a four year term, renewable for one further term of four years. The quorum shall be three members of the Committee.

2. The General Assembly hereby repeal Act XLVIII, 2008, and all other Acts bearing on the structures, remits and powers of Committees and Boards insofar as they are inconsistent with this Act. They direct that Standing Orders be amended in terms of this Act with immediate effect.

3. The General Assembly direct that the termination of the appointment of any member of the Boards and Committees specified above in 1.1-1.6, by death, resignation or discipline, shall be reported as soon as possible after the event to the Assembly Clerks’ Office. Upon notification, the Assembly Clerks’ Office, in consultation with the relevant Board or Committee, shall proceed to appoint a replacement who shall serve until the ensuing General Assembly at which the relevant Board or Committee shall report on the same.

4. The General Assembly endorse the view of the Board of Trustees that the functions of the Home and International Missions Boards should be combined under a single Missions Board. Recognising the practical issues involved in effecting an immediate unification of the boards, they ordain that the Missions Board shall come into effect following the 2015 General Assembly. In the meantime, they instruct the Home and International Missions Boards to consult with one another over the practical arrangements for their unification and to establish a joint strategy forum aimed at bringing greater coherence to the overall mission strategy of the Church. If, in the course of their consultation, substantive issues arise that would suggest that unification of the boards would not be possible, these should be reported to the Board of Trustees by the end of February 2015 in order that the Board might reflect on these and report to the General Assembly accordingly.

5. The General Assembly declare that Presbyteries may nominate elders and ministers from other Presbyteries to fill vacancies on Boards and Committees when there is a shortage of eligible and available nominees within their own bounds. The General Assembly, noting the above declaration, amend Paragraph 2 of Act XLVIII, Class II, 2008 as follows: The Committee when seeking nominations from Presbyteries shall outline for their information the skills and expertise expected of nominees for each vacancy. Presbyteries shall normally nominate candidates from within their own bounds. When there is a local shortage of available and eligible ministers and elders, Presbyteries may nominate candidates from outwith their own bounds. If a Presbytery is unable to identify a suitable candidate, the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall arrange to fill such a vacancy from elsewhere. Appointments made in these cases shall exist for the duration of the term of service specified, unless terminated by death, resignation, translation to another Presbytery or discipline. Presbyteries are directed to ensure that nominees are available, willing and able to serve before submitting their names.

6. In accordance with Act XXIV, 2003, paragraph 5, a minister shall not normally be nominated to serve on any Assembly Board or Committee during the first three years of his ministry. This restriction shall also apply to ministers newly admitted to the Free Church from other denominations.

7. In all cases, a person serving a full term on any Committee or Board specified in this Act shall not be eligible for nomination to any Committee or Board until at least one year has elapsed from the date at which the full term of appointment ended.

8. Unless otherwise provided for in this Act, the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall, in consultation with Committees and Boards, appoint clerks and secretaries in accordance with Act III, 2001.

9. Uninterrupted absence from meetings by any member of a Committee or Board during the period from the General Assembly to 31st December in any calendar year, without good reason given by him and sustained by the relevant Committee or Board, shall be considered a resignation of his membership of that Committee or Board, who shall inform the Assembly Clerks’ Office accordingly before 31st January of the ensuing year. Upon notification the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall proceed to appoint a replacement who shall serve until the ensuing General Assembly at which the Clerks shall report on the same.

10. The General Assembly instruct the Board of Trustees to develop Memoranda of Procedures for each Board and Committee appointed by this Act. This shall include the detailed remit of the Board or Committee, duties and powers of Conveners and Clerks, a timetable of meetings and an outline of proceedings of meetings. The General Assembly instruct each Board and Committee to ensure that all such Memoranda are reviewed annually and madeavailable to members of the relevant Board or Committee at the first meeting after the General Assembly.

11. The Assembly Clerks’ Office shall consider in October annually impending vacancies to Committees and Boards due at the ensuing General Assembly. After this meeting, and not later than 31st October, the Assembly Clerk shall notify Presbyteries, indicating the vacancies which require nomination from within their bounds, as well as the skills required for these positions and inviting them to submit names of suitably qualified personnel by 31st December. Not later than 15th March the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall formulate its Report to the ensuing General Assembly giving due consideration to these submissions and any other matters affecting Committee and Board appointments.

12. The General Assembly ordain that, with the exception of the Board of Trustees and the Psalmody and Praise Committee, each Committee and Board referred to in 1.1-1.6 above shall hold three statutory meetings per annum, with the liberty to arrange additional meetings as required.

13. The General Assembly encourage all committees and boards to consider the practical arrangements for their meetings with a particular view to increasing the possibility of attendance for prospective members in full-time employment. Such considerations could include the timing of meetings and the increased use of video or telephone conferencing.

14. The General Assembly instruct the Board of Trustees to consider options for involving the diaconate and other non-ordained members of the Church in the work of the Standing Committees and to bring forward proposals in this regard to the 2015 General Assembly.

15. The General Assembly advise that discretionary expenditure incurred in relation to the arrangements for the General Assembly and in attending ecumenical events and conferences follow the practice of ‘best value’. They instruct the Assembly Clerks’ Office and the Home and International Missions Boards to allocate expenditure to the areas which are considered essential.

[1] Amended by Act XII, 2015 – Act authorising the appointment of Deacons as members of the Board of Trustees and other matters
[2] Amended by Act XVII, 2016 – Act anent Membership of the Board of Ministry

Search by Subject

Search by Year

Act Year
The General Assembly, noting that annual statutory meetings of Provincial Synods have been suspended since 2009 General Assembly, and that the reduced number of Presbyteries in the Church has resulted in this tier of Church government becoming largely redundant, and desiring therefore that Provincial Synods be dissolved and removed …
The General Assembly, recognising the need to make use of audio-visual technology in the carrying out of Church business in exceptional circumstances, enact and ordain as follows: General Principles. The General Assembly declare that the following general principles apply for the purposes of this Act. 1.1.         The General Assembly …
The General Assembly, noting the Government restrictions on travel and public gatherings due to the COVID19 pandemic, declare that the Assembly shall convene to take up urgent and time-critical business using the Zoom audio-visual technology platform. The General Assembly declare that the Assembly shall convene for one session only …