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Act 13, 2014 (XIII) – Act anent Alternative Ministerial Arrangements. 21st May 2014.

The General Assembly recognise the desirability of having a range of options available for the provision of ordained pastoral ministry in congregations. They acknowledge the difficulties faced by some congregations in meeting the full ministry levy as set from time to time by the Board of Trustees. Accordingly, they ordain that it shall be legitimate for Presbyteries to draw up and implement arrangements that would involve the provision of ministry on an alternative, sustainable funding basis that would not necessarily attract the payment of a full stipend.

1. It shall be competent for Presbyteries to use their discretion in considering the circumstances where such arrangements might be appropriate, including as a possible alternative to the dissolution of a pastoral tie following an audit and review in terms of Act I, Class I, 2013 where, in the view of the Presbytery, the congregation is non-viable.

2. Congregations in which alternative ministerial arrangements are established will be required to meet all costs incurred in the provision of such ministry. To that end, when it is considered desirable for alternative ministry arrangements to be made for a congregation, the Kirk Session and Deacons’ Court (or Finance Committee) shall complete a Schedule for submission to the Presbytery. The Schedule will set out the level of funding that the congregation is able to commit to for the funding of pastoral ministry. It will also set out a commitment to meet the central administration levy, other local ministry expenses and regular congregational expenses. The Schedule will be supplemented by a Ministry Development Plan agreed between the Presbytery, the Kirk Session and the congregation, setting out the vision for ministry in the congregation together with the practical arrangements for how that ministry will be provided, including the duration of any ministerial appointment. The Plan shall also include suitable safeguards to ensure that undue expectations are not placed on a minister appointed under such arrangements.

3. The Schedule and Ministry Development Plan shall be forwarded by the Presbytery to the Home Missions Board for its approval. If the Home Missions Board is satisfied (i) with the congregation’s financial commitment; (ii) with the Ministry Development Plan; and (iii) that the proposed arrangements are consistent with the overall strategy of the Board, it shall give its approval in order that the Presbytery might proceed to implement the arrangements.

4. In all cases, the appointment of a minister under an alternative arrangement as envisaged by this Act shall terminate on expiration of the term set out in the Ministry Development Plan unless the appointment is renewed following a formal review of the Plan by the Presbytery and Kirk Session.

5. The stipend paid to a minister under such alternative ministerial arrangements shall be calculated by taking the level of financial commitment made by the congregation as a proportion of the full, direct costs of ministry and applying that proportion to the equal dividend. If, for example, the level of commitment after payment of the administration levy is 50% of the direct ministry costs, the stipend shall be set at 50% of the equal dividend.

6. If for a sustained period of six months a congregation’s cumulative remittances remain below the level of the agreed commitment, the stipend paid to the minister shall be reduced proportionately. This provision shall be incorporated within the terms of appointment set out in the Ministry Development Plan.

7. Ministers appointed under alternative ministerial arrangements shall have the same rights with regard to the Kirk Session and Deacons’ Court of their congregation and to the other courts of the church as other ministers in pastoral charges.

8. Where alternative ministerial arrangements are implemented in a settled charge, the original induction of the minister to the charge shall remain valid but the terms of the appointment will be superseded by the terms set out in this legislation and by the arrangements agreed within the Ministry Development Plan.

9. Ministers appointed to a vacant congregation under this legislation shall be elected and inducted to the pastoral charge of the congregation in the same way as other ministers.

10. Ministers appointed to a ministry in terms of this Act shall be entitled to the same expenses from the congregation as other ministers in pastoral charges in accordance with the regulations currently prevailing.

11. Ministers appointed to a ministry in terms of this Act shall be permitted to engage in other employment provided that the Presbytery and Kirk Session are satisfied that such employment in no way hinders or conflicts with the discharge of the duties he is expected to undertake in his ministerial appointment. The specific conditions to be applied to other employment shall be contained within the Ministry Development Plan.

12. The General Assembly instruct the Home Missions Board to monitor the implementation of the approved Procedure to serve as the basis for the oversight and periodic review of such alternative ministerial arrangements.

13. The General Assembly instruct the Home Missions Board to keep the implementation of the provisions of this Act under review and to bring a report on the same to the General Assembly every three years.