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Act 8, 2019 (VIII) – Act anent Categories and Rolls of Ministers. 22nd May 2019.

The General Assembly, seeking to revise the arrangements regarding categories and rolls of ministers, enact and ordain that the following categories and related stipulations shall apply to all ordained ministers of the Free Church of Scotland from the close of this Assembly:

1. General. The Principal Clerk of Assembly shall maintain a complete record comprising the names of all those listed in the categories below. He shall produce the complete list annually and shall report the same to the General Assembly through the Board of Ministry. Presbytery Clerks and Clerks of Boards and Committees of the Church are responsible for informing the Principal Clerk in all instances specified below. To ensure the accuracy of the records held by the Assembly Clerks’ Office, the following instructions shall be noted:

1.1 The names of all Free Church ministers inducted to a charge will be held on the appropriate Roll of Presbytery. The Roll of Presbytery will include the names of ministers who have been granted a seat in the Presbytery on the basis of other full-time ministerial appointments in the Church. The Roll of Presbytery will also include retired ministers who have successfully petitioned the Presbytery for a seat as outlined in Paragraph 3.6 below.

1.2 The names of all other Free Church ministers in good standing must appear on one or other of the lists specified below.

1.3 Presbytery Clerks shall submit the Roll of Presbytery to the Assembly Clerks’ Office annually, immediately after the Roll has been finalised.

1.4 Ministers who resign their charge and become ministers in another denomination cannot remain under the jurisdiction and discipline of two denominations, so their names must be removed from Free Church listings. Should such ministers wish to re-enter the Free Church they must petition the General Assembly or its Commission through the Board of Ministry.

2. Roll of Ministers Without Charge Eligible for Call. The Roll of Ministers Without Charge Eligible for Call shall comprise all ordained ministers (for Probationers see 5 below) of the Free Church in good standing who are not already in a charge in the Free Church of Scotland and who are not resigned from their previous charge. Only those whose names are placed on this Roll shall be eligible for a call other than ministers already in a charge or ministers whose names appear on the Roll of Probationers. Ministers who do not wish to be considered for a Call from a vacant congregation may intimate this to the Interim-Moderator on receipt of enquiries from the Kirk Sessions of vacant congregations.

2.1 Ministers on the Roll of Ministers without Charge Eligible for Call shall be under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery within whose bounds they are resident. If a minister takes up residence beyond the bounds of any Presbytery, while on this Roll, he shall remain under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery within whose bounds he last resided. Presbyteries shall inform the Assembly Clerk of any change in location regarding ministers whose names are recorded on this Roll.

2.2 Ministers on the Roll of Ministers without Charge Eligible for Call shall be eligible to petition the Presbytery within whose bounds they reside for a seat in the Presbytery. The Presbytery shall inform the Assembly Clerk of any such changes. On being granted a seat in the Presbytery, the minister shall be eligible for membership of General Assembly Boards and Committees of the Church, and he shall continue to be a member of the Presbytery until such time as he is inducted to a charge or ceases to reside within the bounds of the Presbytery.

2.3 Ministers on the Roll of Ministers Without Charge Eligible for Call shall be eligible for election as Ruling Elders of the congregation of which they are communicant members, provided they have not resigned from this charge previously. However, they may not be elected as Ruling Elders or appointed as Assessor Elders, either to represent the Kirk Session at Presbytery and Synod, or as Commissioners to the General Assembly.

2.4 The names of ministers on the Roll of Ministers Without Charge Eligible for Call shall be retained on the Roll for an initial period of three years, before the end of which he may petition the General Assembly, through the Presbytery within whose bounds he resides, to have his name retained on the Roll for a further three years. The same process of application shall be followed in order for names to be retained on the Roll for every subsequent three-year term.

2.5 The General Assembly direct that each Presbytery of the Church shall maintain a list of ministers on the Roll of Ministers without Charge Eligible for Call who are under their jurisdiction and shall report on the list to the Assembly Clerk at the end of each calendar year. This annual review shall include due investigation that they continue to associate with the Free Church of Scotland. Should the Presbytery find otherwise regarding any minister on this Roll, the Presbytery may declare that he is no longer a minister of the Free Church and, after intimation to the individual concerned, may thus order his name to be removed from the Roll if appropriate. The Presbytery shall inform the Principal Clerk of Assembly accordingly.

3. Roll of Resigned Ministers. The Roll of Resigned Ministers shall comprise all ordained ministers of the Free Church in good standing who have resigned their charge and have not become ministers of another denomination.

3.1 This list comprises the following:

(a) Ministers who resigned their charge due to a breakdown in health;

(b) Ministers whose resignation is due to non-censurable incompatibility with a congregation;

(c) Ministers whose resignation is required for secondment by a responsible Board or Committee of the Free Church to other pastoral or para-pastoral work.

(d) Ministers who resigned their charge and are employed by other agencies and are financially supported by the Free Church but not seconded by a Board or Committee of the Free Church of Scotland, provided they have not become ministers of another denomination.

(e) Ministers who resigned their charge and are employed by other agencies but are not financially supported by the Free Church, provided they have not become ministers of another denomination.

(f) Ministers whose names by order of the General Assembly, other than for reasons in (a)-(e) above, are to be held on the Roll of Resigned Ministers.

3.2 When a minister’s resignation of his charge has been accepted by his Presbytery, the Clerk of Presbytery (or, in the case of a Mission Board Charge, the Secretary of the Mission Board) shall inform the Principal Clerk of Assembly by Extract Minute. The Extract Minute shall include the resolution of the Presbytery to place the name of the minister on the Roll of Resigned Ministers. If the Presbytery resolve to place the name on the Roll of Ministers without Charge Eligible for Call, they must minute positive reasons for such placement on it, or subsequent continuance on it, and the Extract Minute furnished to the Principal Clerk shall contain these reasons.

3.3 If a minister whose name has been placed on the Roll of Resigned Ministers shall be admitted to the ministry or other full-time employment of another Church other than by secondment, his name shall be removed from the Roll.

3.4 A minister whose name is placed on the Roll of Resigned Ministers is required to notify the Clerk of Presbytery of any change of address. If a minister takes up residence within the bounds of another Presbytery of the Free Church of Scotland, he shall also inform the Clerk of that Presbytery of his address and thereafter he shall come under the jurisdiction of that Presbytery. In such a case the Presbytery Clerk shall advise the Principal Clerk of Assembly.

3.5 A minister whose name is on the Roll of Resigned Ministers and who desires to have his name transferred to the Roll of Ministers without Charge Eligible for Call shall petition the General Assembly, or its Commission, through the Presbytery within whose bounds he is resident at the time. The Petition shall give positive reasons for transference to it, otherwise it shall not be deemed competent.

3.6 A minister, who has resigned his charge to accept an appointment outside the Free Church of Scotland, and who seeks a seat on the Presbytery in which he resides, may petition the General Assembly or its Commission, through the Presbytery. He shall continue to be a member of the Presbytery for the duration of the period in which he holds the appointment on the basis of which he is granted his seat; and on ceasing to hold such an appointment his membership of Presbytery shall lapse, and his name placed on the Roll of Resigned Ministers.

3.7 Ministers whose names are held on the Roll of Resigned Ministers shall be eligible for election as Ruling Elders of the congregation to which they belong but they may not be elected, as Ruling Elders or appointed as Assessor Elders, either to represent the Kirk Session at Presbytery and Synod, or as Commissioners to the General Assembly

3.8 Ministers on the Roll of Resigned Ministers shall be under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery within whose bounds they are resident. If a minister takes up residence beyond the bounds of any Presbytery of the Free Church of Scotland, he shall remain under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery within whose bounds he last resided.

3.9 A request by an individual whose name is on the Roll of Resigned Ministers to have his name removed therefrom shall be dealt with by the Presbytery within whose bounds he resides. That Presbytery after due investigation and on due grounds shown (such as, the individual concerned no longer associates with the Free Church of Scotland) may declare him to be no longer a minister of the Free Church of Scotland and order that his name be removed from the Roll.

3.10 The General Assembly direct that each Presbytery of the Church shall maintain a list of ministers on the Roll of Resigned Ministers who are under their jurisdiction and shall inform the Assembly Clerk accordingly at the beginning of each calendar year. This annual review shall include due investigation that they continue to associate with the Free Church of Scotland. Should the Presbytery find otherwise regarding any minister on this Roll the Presbytery may declare that he is no longer a minister of the Free Church of Scotland and, after due intimation to the individual concerned, may thus order his name to be removed from the Roll if appropriate grounds are found. The Presbytery shall inform the Principal Clerk of Assembly accordingly.

4. Roll of Probationers. The Roll of Probationers comprises all Probationers in good standing licensed by the Free Church of Scotland and who are available for Call. Probationers who no longer wish to be available for Call shall inform their Presbytery specifying the reasons. If their request to be removed from the Roll of Probationers is granted, the Presbytery shall inform the Principal Clerk of Assembly by extract minute authorising him to remove their name from this list.

4.1 A Probationer is a candidate for the ministry who has completed the course of studies required by the Board of Ministry and has been licensed to preach by a Presbytery of the Free Church of Scotland.

4.2 Clerks of Presbyteries shall send the names and addresses of all who have been licensed by them as Probationers, with dates of licence, within one week thereafter, to the Principal Clerk of Assembly with a copy to the Clerk to the Board of Ministry.

4.3 The Principal Clerk shall prepare and maintain a Roll of all Probationers of the Free Church according to date of licence and shall provide the Board of Ministry annually with a list of all the names and addresses on the Roll, and the Board shall incorporate the list into its report to the General Assembly.

4.4 A Probationer’s name shall remain on the Roll of Probationers for six years, before the end of which he may petition the General Assembly, through the Presbytery within whose bounds he resides, to have his name retained on the Roll for a further three years. A Probationer must use the same process of application to the General Assembly, through the Presbytery, every three years, in order to have his name retained on the Roll.

4.5 A Probationer is not eligible to conduct Marriage Services or dispense the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

4.6 Probationers are subject to the oversight of the Presbytery within whose bounds they reside, though the Presbytery may choose to exercise pastoral care through the Kirk Session of the congregation of which he is a member. The Presbytery has a responsibility to meet with Probationers under their oversight regularly and shall meet in private for this purpose.

4.7 A Kirk Session shall not issue a Disjunction Certificate to a Probationer awaiting a Call without prior reference to the Presbytery.

4.8 Where a Disjunction Certificate is granted to a Probationer, the Presbytery Clerk shall forthwith inform the Principal Clerk of Assembly; and likewise, when the Probationer subsequently comes under the pastoral oversight of another Presbytery, the Presbytery Clerk shall inform the Principal Clerk so that the Probationer’s name be continued on the Roll of Probationers.

4.9 If when granted a Disjunction Certificate, a Probationer does not lodge it within six weeks with another Free Church congregation he shall be deemed to have removed his name from the Roll of Probationers.

5. Retired Ministers. A minister inducted to a charge or appointed to a full-time post in the Church after this General Assembly, shall demit such a charge or post with effect from 30th September following his attainment of the age of 70 years.

5.1 A minister may apply for permission to retire on attaining the age of 65 years.

5.2 Applications for earlier retirement on the grounds of ill health shall be subject to the rules of the Free Church of Scotland Pension Scheme or the rules of such other pension arrangement(s) as may be in place at the time.

5.3 Those ministers with qualifying service in the Free Church of Scotland Pension Scheme shall address applications for payment of retirement benefits to the Trustees of the Scheme. Applications for payment of pension benefits in respect of service after 31st December 2007 shall be directed to the third-party administrator. All ministers are encouraged to seek independent financial advice when considering options for retirement.

5.4 All applications for retirement from ministers in a charge must be supported by extract minutes from the relevant Kirk Session and Presbytery and these must show that the applicant has agreed to withdraw from his rights of active participation in the courts of the congregation – his right to respond to a specific request from the Moderator or Interim Moderator of the congregation being unchanged. Retirement shall involve the surrender of the emoluments of the Charge, and the vacation of the manse unless the Deacons’ Court permits continuing occupation for a period; the congregation shall be deemed to be and declared to be vacant by order of the Presbytery after the specified retirement date has been reached.

6. Roll of Retired Ministers. The Roll of Retired Ministers shall comprise all ordained ministers of the Free Church in good standing who have retired, including those who have been received from other denominations since retiring. Retirement in this sense, whether by a minister in a pastoral charge or otherwise, should be seen as distinct from a minister choosing to receive certain retirement benefits prior to actual retirement.

6.1 Ministers retiring upon attainment of retirement age, or on the grounds of ill health, may petition the Presbytery within whose bounds they are to reside, for a seat in that Presbytery. Should their request be granted their name will be added to the Roll of Presbytery and the Clerk of Presbytery shall inform the Principal Clerk of Assembly. Upon relocation to another Presbytery, the retired minister’s right to his seat in Presbytery will terminate with immediate effect, but he may apply for a seat in the Presbytery within whose bounds he has relocated. In the case of ministers who take up residence in a Presbytery other than that receiving their application to retire, an extract minute from the Presbytery receiving their application to retire in support of the Petition for a seat shall be obtained.

6.2 All ordained ministers of the Free Church retiring through attainment of retirement age, or for health reasons, or from service in international mission fields where this has been under the supervision of the Mission Board, may similarly petition the Presbytery within whose bounds they are to reside, for a seat in that Presbytery. In this case the supporting extract minute shall be provided by the Board.

6.3 Ministers serving under the oversight of the Mission Board, who at retirement choose not to apply for a seat in a Presbytery, shall continue to be under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery within whose bounds they are resident, and their names shall be held on the Roll of Retired Ministers.

6.4 The Principal Clerk shall maintain the Roll of Retired Ministers showing retired minsters who have been granted a seat in Presbytery in addition to retired ministers who have chosen not to apply for a seat in Presbytery.

6.5 Retired ministers, unless granted a seat in a Presbytery, shall not be eligible to serve on Assembly-appointed Boards and Committees of the Church.

6.6 For disciplinary purposes a retired minister is accountable to the Presbytery within whose bounds he resides.

6.7 Retired ministers shall be eligible for election as Ruling Elders of the congregation of which they are communicant members, provided this is not their last charge before retirement, but they may not be elected as Ruling Elders or appointed as Assessor Elders either to represent the Kirk Session at Presbytery and Synod or as Commissioners to the General Assembly.

6.8 The General Assembly direct that each Presbytery of the Church shall maintain a list of ministers on the Roll of Retired Ministers who are under their jurisdiction and shall inform the Assembly Clerk accordingly at the beginning of each calendar year. This annual review shall include due investigation that they continue to associate with the Free Church of Scotland. Should the Presbytery find otherwise regarding any minister on this Roll the Presbytery may declare that he is no longer a minister of the Free Church of Scotland and, after due intimation to the individual concerned, may thus order his name to be removed from the Roll if appropriate grounds are found. The Presbytery shall inform the Principal Clerk of Assembly accordingly.

7. Repeal. The General Assembly hereby repeal Act 15, Class 2, 2017 as amended by Act 5, Class 2, 2018.