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Act 14, 2013 (XIV) – Act anent Establishment of Locally Subsidised Charges. 22nd May 2013.

The General Assembly, recognising the need for the Church to reduce its expenditure in Centrally Supported Ministries, and also that Presbyteries may wish to subsidise ministries within their bounds in order to secure their immediate future, hereby approve the establishment of a Locally Subsidised Charge as a means of providing a short-term plan for ministry in line with the provisions of Act I, Class I, 2013 anent Sustentation Fund, paragraph 6.1.3, in the following terms:

1. The Congregation

Where a congregation has been declared to be financially non-viable in terms of the above Act, and the Presbytery of the bounds wishes to extend the term of an existing ministry by way of alternative financial arrangements, it shall be the duty of the Minister of such a congregation, in consultation with the Kirk Session, the Deacons’ Court and congregation to fill up a Sustentation Fund Schedule and submit it to the Home Missions Board through the Presbytery.

The Schedule shall cover a three year period and show the level of the congregation’s financial commitment to the appointment of a fulltime minister for this three-year term. The promise should be adequate in relation to the congregation’s resources and prospects. The Schedule shall also show the congregation’s ability to meet all local ministry expenses and regular congregational expenses, and confirm the suitability of all congregational property.

2. Documents

The application for extended ministry under the terms of this Act shall be supported by a Development Plan and a Funding Plan.

2.1 Development Plan

The Development Plan shall be prepared by the congregation, in consultation with the Presbytery, and with the support of the Home Missions Board. The Plan shall show the strategy for outreach and development in the congregation for the three-year term of the appointment. The Plan shall show how the strategy is to be implemented and how the aims and objectives of the Plan are to be achieved. The Plan shall also show what support the Presbytery will give to the congregation in the implementation of the Plan along with confirmed arrangements as to how this support will be given. In addition to the support of the Presbytery, the congregation shall be at liberty to request the support of the Home Missions Board in the implementation of the Plan.

2.2 Funding Plan

The Funding Plan shall give details of the congregation’s financial situation showing: (i) the annual Ordinary Income; (ii) any reserves or investments held by the congregation; (iii) the level of the congregation’s contribution to the cost of ministry for each year of the three year term of the appointment; (iv) budgeted expenditure for all local ministerial and congregational expenses; (v) budgeted expenditure for resources, etc., required for implementation of the Development Plan. In addition to the above, the Funding Plan shall also show all sources of alternative and additional funding required to meet the Direct Cost of Ministry and the appropriate Administration Levy. Such alternative and additional sources of funding shall be clearly identifiable and secured before the application is passed by the Home Missions Board or approved by the General Assembly. The support-funding shall be remitted on request to the Church’s Finance Officer throughout the period of the minister’s appointment so that central resources are not disadvantaged by the arrangement. If the supporting funds are to be realised through money held by the Board of Trustees on behalf of congregations, the application for ministry under the terms of this Act shall be supported by copies of petitions addressed to the General Assembly requesting that such funds be released.

3. The Presbytery

The Schedule shall be submitted to the Presbytery of the bounds for approval. In the light of its knowledge of local circumstances the Presbytery shall be asked if it considers the financial commitment promised and the proposals made to be adequate in the light of the congregation’s resources and prospects.

3.1 Before a Presbytery gives its approval to a Schedule seeking permission to extend the current ministry under the provisions of this Act, the Presbytery shall carry out a visitation of the congregation and submit to the Board, along with the Schedule, a report on the prospects of a continued ministry in the congregation.

3.2 The Presbytery shall petition the General Assembly through the Home Missions Board in suitable terms. The Petition shall show (1) the commitment of the congregation towards the direct cost of ministry; (2) the identity of all secured sources of supporting funding; and (3) the desire of the minister and of the congregation for the existing ministry to be extended under the terms of this Act. The Presbytery’s report to the Home Missions Board shall show (1) that the Presbytery has approved the Development Plan and is committed to participating in the implementation of it; (2) that the Presbytery has approved the Financial Plan and is satisfied that all the financial promises given are secured and realistic; and (3) that the Presbytery has given consideration as to how the Financial Plan can be supported should any of the listed sources of funding fail to meet their commitment in any given year.

4. Home Missions Board

The Schedule shall be forwarded to the Home Missions Board once it has been approved by the Presbytery. If the Board is satisfied with (i) the congregation’s commitment; (ii) the arrangements for alternative support funding; (iii) the congregational development plan; and (iv) that the proposal is consistent with the overall strategy of the Board, then they may recommend to the General Assembly that the existing ministry should continue for an additional fixed three-year term.

5. Review

5.1 Annual Financial Review

The Church’s Finance Officer shall provide the Home Missions Board with a financial report at the beginning of each calendar year. This report will give details of actual remittances for the previous year against budgeted remittances. If this report shows a shortfall in the actual income, the Board shall instruct the Presbytery to meet with the congregation to assess the ongoing viability of the Financial Plan and will seek to identify alternative sources of funding should such be required. The Presbytery shall report to the Board at its meeting due in March each year. If no additional sources of funding are secured, the Board will report accordingly to the General Assembly recommending that the minister’s appointment be terminated.

5.2 Final Overall Review

A review of the congregation’s overall situation shall take place two years after the new arrangements have been implemented. The purpose of this review is to assess the progress of the congregation in the implementation of the Development Plan and also to assess the long-term financial viability of the congregation. The review shall be initiated by the congregation through submission of a new Sustentation Fund Schedule through the Presbytery of the bounds. The Presbytery shall consult fully with the congregation during the review period in order to agree an achievable way forward for ministry in the congregation.

5.2.1 If when a fresh Schedule is submitted the congregation promises to remit at least the Direct Cost of Ministry, and if the Board is satisfied with the Schedule in this and other respects, then the Congregation may be given the status of a fully-sanctioned charge, financially self-supporting, and without restriction on the minister’s appointment. The Board will report on the matter to the next General Assembly so that the minister’s induction to the charge may be declared to be free of time-restriction.5.2.2 If the Presbytery reports that the congregation is unable to meet the Direct Cost of Ministry, but that there has been considerable improvement in the strength of the congregation, and that sufficient supporting funds are available to finance the ministry for another three-year term, then the Board shall report accordingly to the next General Assembly recommending that the minister’s appointment be extended for a second and final three-year term according to the provisions of this Act.

5.2.3 If at the time of a review the congregation is unable to promise to remit at least the Direct Cost of Ministry, even with the help of additional supporting funds, or if the Board adjudge the congregation’s promised commitment to be unrealistic, the Board shall report this to the next General Assembly, and the Board shall recommend that the minister’s appointment be terminated at the end of his current appointment. When the contract of a minister is terminated by resolution of the General Assembly, the Presbytery of the bounds shall direct that his name be added to the Register of Ministers without Charge, eligible for call. The Presbytery shall submit its Report to the Home Missions Board by 31st January in the calendar year after which the review was initiated.

6 Terms of Appointment

Appointments made under the terms of this Act will be in situations where an existing ministry is financially non-viable and which no longer qualifies for financial support from Central Funds. The appointment of a minister will be for a fixed three-year term and the following conditions will apply:

6.1 The original induction of the Minister to the Charge shall be declared valid for an appointment under the provisions of this Act but the current arrangements and terms of appointment will be superseded by the terms and conditions set out in this legislation.

6.2 The minister shall be paid the annual stipend. The shortfall between the congregational remittances to Central Funds from Ordinary Income and the Direct Cost of Ministry shall be met from alternative, local, support-funding sourced from the Presbytery of the bounds.

6.3 The minister placed on a three-year appointment according to this legislation shall not accept extraecclesiastical work or appointments, or appointments which require absence from the charge, so that he may devote his whole time to the congregation. The Presbytery shall ensure that all support-structures agreed in the development plan are in place and that the plan is being implemented.

6.4 The minister shall report twice annually to meetings of his Presbytery. The Presbytery shall report by 31st January each year to the Home Missions Board giving an update on the implementation of the development plan and on progress in the spiritual, numerical and financial aspects of the congregation.

6.5 If the minister’s link with the congregation is severed at the end of the three-year period, then he shall be treated as a minister without charge, except that he shall be paid at the rate of the then current Stipend for a period of six months from the date of expiry of the appointment, or until his induction to another charge, whichever is sooner, and the Presbytery shall inform the Assembly Clerk so that his name may be included on the Register of Ministers without Charge