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Standing Orders of the General Assembly (2020)

STANDING ORDERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
A. AS TO REPRESENTATION OF PRESBYTERIES
1. That all Commissions, transmitted to the Clerk of Assembly, shall be revised by him, in so far as regards their regularity in point of form, and that the Clerk shall prepare a Report on the subject and submit the same to the Committee appointed by the Assembly for the revising of Commissions.
2. That the Clerk of the Assembly shall furnish all Presbytery Clerks with printed copies of the form of Commission to Representatives hitherto in use, and also printed copies of the bona fide Certificates to be used by Kirk Sessions, according to Act 8, Assembly 1853, and Act 9, Assembly 1863, for certifying elders who are chosen to be Commissioners to the General Assembly.
3. That there shall be attached to Commissions a statement, certified by the Presbytery Clerk, of the number of charges in each Presbytery at the date of the Commission, and of any changes that have taken place during the previous year.
4. That Clerks of Presbyteries shall send intimation to the Clerk of Assembly on the death of a colleague, or of the induction of a colleague immediately after that event has taken place.
5. That the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall consider in the month of January annually any changes in Presbyteries which may have occurred in the course of the previous year, for the purpose of ascertaining the effects as regards representation and shall immediately thereafter intimate to the Presbyteries concerned what will be their representation in the ensuing General Assembly.
6. That each Presbytery shall appoint Commissioners to the General Assembly comprising an equal number of Ministers and Elders according to the notification of representation issued by the Assembly Clerks’ Office.
7. That the decision of the Assembly Clerks’ Office, so intimated to Presbyteries, shall be subject to review by the General Assembly, if appealed against or dissented from.
8. That should any question arise between the month of January and the meeting of Assembly, not provided for by these Orders, the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall consider these and how to dispose of such questions.
B. AS TO THE TRANSMISSION TO THE CLERK OF ASSEMBLY OF PAPERS
FOR THE ASSEMBLY BUSINESS COMMITTEE
1. That all Commissions shall be sent by Clerks of their respective Presbyteries so as to be in the hands of the Clerk of the General Assembly not later than one week before the meeting of the Business Committee referred to in C.1 below. The Assembly Clerk shall give due notice to the Clerks of Presbyteries of the date of the meeting to facilitate this. The Assembly Clerk shall report on all Commissions and Elders’ Certificates to the Assembly Business Committee when it meets, and the Committee shall examine these Commissions and Certificates and include an item on them in its report. All Commissions and Certificates outstanding at the opening of the Assembly shall be reported to the Assembly by the Assembly Clerk at the First Session.
2. That all papers intended to be transmitted to the Assembly – namely, Memorials, Overtures, Petitions, Applications, References, Complaints and Appeals, with Extracts of Minutes of Inferior Courts, relative thereto, as also Reasons of Complaint or Appeal; and in cases of Libel with the Defences and Evidence adduced – shall be transmitted to the Clerk of Assembly not later than 15th April in each year, in order to be printed in sufficient numbers for the use of the members of Assembly; and that papers passed by the Inferior Courts at a later date shall be transmitted to the Clerk without delay. The Clerk of Assembly shall lay such papers before the Assembly Business Committee and parties concerned shall be in attendance at the meeting. The Committee shall report to the First Session of the General Assembly on the receivability of the documents. In the event of the Committee resolving not to receive a particular document, the parties concerned shall have a right of appeal against the finding of the Committee to the General Assembly.
3. That Presbyteries shall transmit to the Clerk of Assembly their Returns to Overtures not later than one week before the meeting referred to in C.1 below; that said Presbyterial Returns shall consist of certified extracts from the Minutes of Presbytery; and that a separate leaf of paper shall be used for the Return on each Overture sent down by the General Assembly.
4. That all such papers shall be printed by the Clerk, except such papers as he may consider undesirable to print; that papers not printed shall be submitted in manuscript; and that if the Committee does not endorse the view of the Clerk, the papers shall forthwith be printed for the use of the Assembly.
5. That these regulations shall not apply to Petitions for authority to sell congregational property, which Petitions shall not be transmitted through the Business Committee but shall be forwarded from the relevant Deacons’ Court (or Finance Committee), through the Presbytery of the bounds, to the Principal Clerk who shall lay each Petition before the Board of Trustees in accordance with the procedure stipulated in Act 14, Class 2, 2015.
6. That in regard to returns from Presbyteries to any Overture transmitted to them under the Barrier Act the total number of Presbyteries in the Church shall constitute the appropriate base for calculating a majority and a non-return shall be taken as signifying disapproval of the matter contained in the Overture.
C. AS TO ASSEMBLY BUSINESS COMMITTEE AND ASSEMBLY CLERKS’ OFFICE
1. That the Business Committee of Assembly shall comprise the Principal Clerk, the Assistant Clerks and the Clerks of all the home Presbyteries and shall meet at a convenient point not later than 15th April annually, to examine all papers in the hands of the Principal Clerk due to come before the Assembly. The Committee shall appoint its own Convener and the Principal Clerk shall act as Clerk to the Committee.
2. That the Committee at this meeting shall formulate a programme of business for the Assembly, after giving due consideration to the following:
a) the number of Reports from Committees and Boards and the length of time thought to be required for each, taking account of which Reports, or sections of Reports, should be the subject of less formal discussion;
b) the periods of informal discussion rather than formal debate that the Assembly may wish to take up;
c) all other items of business due to come before the Assembly and estimated time thought to be required for each;
d) the number of delegates expected at the Assembly;
e) any Appeals, Dissents and Complaints, Overtures, Petitions or References or any other cases coming to the Assembly from the inferior courts.
3. That the Business Committee take up the examination of Presbytery records at the April statutory meeting and report on their findings in the Committee’s report to the General Assembly.
4. That the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall present its report to the Assembly at the first session and its report shall be bound with all the other reports to be distributed in advance of the Assembly.
5. That the Clerks shall in their Report designate as routine those Petitions they consider ought to be in this category, and to recommend this to the Assembly in its report, at which point amendments to the contrary may be given in without prior notice, the final decision on whether any Petition be so treated to lie with the General Assembly; that if there be no objection to a Petition being classified as routine the Motion relating to it in the Proposed Deliverance of the Report shall be moved and seconded. An objection to a proposal to treat a Petition as routine or an amendment to the Motion relating to it, will require that the Petition be taken up at a suitable point in the Assembly Programme.
6. That the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall see that all papers presented to them in Cases from Inferior Courts, whether forming part of the Record, or produced in evidence before said Courts, have been duly dated and numbered by the Clerk of said Courts, and marked with his initial; and that the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall not receive any paper which is not authenticated, unless upon special cause shown, to be reported by them to the General Assembly.
D. AS TO PRINTING OF PAPERS IN CASES COMING UP TO THE ASSEMBLY
1. That all such papers shall be printed by the Clerk, except any papers which he considers may lead to discussions in the meeting referred to in C.1 above; that he shall retain these in manuscript, and submit them in that form to that meeting, and that a list of them shall be appended to the volume containing the papers passing the Clerk.
2. That in cases of discipline brought before the Assembly by reference from a Presbytery or Synod, or by complaint by a minority of the Court, the expense of printing shall be borne by the Assembly Clerk’s Office; in other circumstances by the Complainer or Appellant; and that in all other cases, such as Petitions, References not in Causes, Memorials, etc. the expense shall be borne by the party having interest in same, or desiring a deliverance from the Assembly.
3. That all such papers be printed in a form corresponding to pages of the volume of Acts of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland.
4. That all such papers shall be stitched together and provided with an alphabetical index; and that a copy thereof shall be placed in the hands of each member of the Assembly.
5. That a copy of every printed paper shall be kept by the Clerk of Assembly to be bound up and kept among the Records of Assembly.
E. AS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
1. Devotional Exercises
1. That a bell shall be rung for one minute; and members shall take their places in the House before the Moderator takes the Chair; that the Assembly Hall doors shall be closed each day during the opening exercises to prevent interruption by persons entering the House during that time; and that the Assembly shall spend the first hour or more of the first session of the second full day of their meeting in devotional exercises.
2. That any proposal for a pause in the Assembly’s proceedings with a view to engage in special devotional exercise, shall be made to the Assembly only through the Moderator.
2. Committee for Printing the Acts
1. That the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall make arrangements for the printing the Acts of Assembly and that they shall arrange that the Acts be divided into two classes – Class 1: those which have passed the Barrier Act; Class 2: Acts which are of General Interest to the Church.
3. Reports of Committees
1. That the Reports of all Boards and Committees reporting to the General Assembly [excepting only a report from any meeting of the Assembly Business Committee with the purpose of reporting on changes to nominations to vacancies on Board and Committees] shall, together with Deliverances to be proposed, be transmitted for printing to the Clerk of Assembly not later than the first day of April. All Reports shall be stitched together and sent to Commissioners to the General Assembly not later than ten days before the meeting of the Assembly.
2. That Reports shall not be engrossed in the Record, but, after being printed, a copy of each, certified by the Clerk as being that given in to the Assembly, shall be kept in retentis, and the Reports shall be appended to the printed volume of the Acts and Proceedings of Assembly.
3. That verbal Reports shall not be received, and no Sub-committee shall give in any Report to the Assembly except by express leave of the Assembly.
4. That paragraphs of a proposed Deliverance on the Report of a Standing Committee shall be numbered, and the mover shall not be required to read it when it is already in the hands of members of Assembly.
5. That when any Committee is appointed during the Assembly’s sittings it shall be competent to move amendments to the proposed Deliverance on its report without previous notice.
6. That it shall be competent for Commissioners to give notice in writing of questions to be put to the person presenting a Report to the General Assembly – this without prejudice to the right to add supplementary questions or the right of members generally to propose questions from the floor.
4. The Submission of Amendments and Addenda
1. That amendments and addenda to the proposed deliverances of reports taken during the first session may be moved without previous notice.
2. That amendments and addenda to the proposed deliverances of all other reports taken in subsequent session shall be given in and read by the Clerk as specified in the following table. Amendments or addenda given in after the specified deadline shall not be accepted.
Reports due to be taken up during: Amendments and addenda to be given in
before:
2nd Session (Tuesday morning and afternoon) Adjournment Monday evening
3rd Session (Tuesday evening) Suspension Tuesday lunchtime
4th Session (Wednesday morning and afternoon) Adjournment Tuesday evening
5th Session (Wednesday evening) Suspension Wednesday lunchtime
6th Session (Thursday morning and afternoon) Adjournment Wednesday evening.

5. The Reading of Speeches and Length of Speeches
1. That, previously to the discussion of any question which does not arise upon or contemplate the approval or disapproval of the Report of a Committee, the House shall determine, in such manner as may seem expedient, the order of priority belonging to the motions given notice of, and that, when a motion approving of a Report has been made and seconded, the House shall determine in the same manner the order of priority belonging to any other motions given notice of.
2. That in the discussion of any question the proposer of each motion may address the House for not longer than 25 minutes, and the seconder for 15 minutes; and no subsequent speaker shall address the House for a longer period than 10 minutes; and that these limits shall only be exceeded when the Moderator shall have ascertained that the House desires any speaker to continue and shall intimate the ascertained desire to that effect.
3. That when a Convener or Chairman, not being a member of Assembly, is permitted to present the Report of his Committee or Board, the Convener or Chairman and the mover of the Deliverance shall be required to come to an arrangement by which their combined speeches shall not exceed the time normally granted to the mover of a motion in terms of Standing Order E.4.3, or as that Order may be amended by this or any subsequent Assembly. It shall be competent for the person who presents a Committee’s Report or Board’s Report to answer questions relating to the Report and to reply to the discussion, even if he be not a member of Assembly.
4. That a member of the Assembly in moving or seconding an amendment shall confine himself to the matter of the amendment and shall have the right to speak at a later stage to other matters in the Report and other amendments, provided that the total time taken in speaking shall conform to Standing Order E.4.3.
5. That with the exception of those permitted to present a Committee’s Report or Board’s Report, or an Overture, Petition or Reference, it shall not be competent for anyone other than a member of the Assembly to ask questions or take part in the discussion, although the Assembly may call on persons who are not members of Assembly to answer questions on specific items of business for reasons of information and clarification. Persons called upon in such instances shall confine themselves strictly to answering the questions put.
6. Sessions of Informal Discussion
1. That sessions for informal discussion may be held during the Assembly in addition to the formal discussion specified in 4 above, on a recommendation in the Assembly Clerks’ Report. The Assembly Clerks’ Office shall make its recommendations at the First Session through its Report to the Assembly. All commissioners shall be expected to attend these discussion sessions. While no formal proposal or motion may be presented at these sessions the discussion ought nevertheless to give prolonged consideration to the items specified by the Assembly. The Sessions shall be chaired by the Moderator.
2. That Committees and Boards shall highlight with an asterisk items in their annual Reports which they consider require substantive debate, in order to assist the Assembly Clerks’ Office with its recommendations about informal discussion sessions and to aid commissioners in their preparations for the Assembly. This shall not preclude any commissioner asking questions about, or speaking to, other items in reports.
7. The Conducting of Causes
1. That Counsel shall not be heard at the Bar in any Causes which may come before the House.
2. That when a Presbytery acquiesces in the sentence of a Synod, it shall not be entitled to appear as a separate party at the Bar of the Assembly, but the members of Presbytery may nevertheless be heard as members of Synod.
3. That in no case shall there be more than two speakers for each party at the Bar, including the reply to which the appellant or complainer shall be entitled; and when there are more than two parties, there shall only be one speaker, and one speech for each, besides the reply – it being understood that where there is more than one complainer, each shall be considered as a different party only in case of its appearing to the Assembly that the complaints rest upon distinctly separate grounds.
4. That, previously to hearing the parties in any Cause, the Clerk shall read the following announcement, – viz., “The members are reminded that justice requires the pleadings as at the Bar to be heard by all those who vote in the Cause, and that, in particular, no member ought to vote against either side of the Bar who has not heard the pleadings on that side”.
5.1 That the Clerk of Assembly shall not issue the papers to the members of Assembly, with reference to cases which he thinks require to be conducted with closed doors until specially instructed by the Assembly to do so; but he shall report such cases to the Convener of the Business Committee, for its information immediately after its appointment;
5.2 That the Business Committee shall, in their first Report, specify any case which, in their judgment, requires to be conducted with closed doors; and any case which does not appear to them of that character, although the Clerk may have reported it as such;
5.3 That, in all cases thus reported on by the Business Committee the Assembly shall itself determine, by a special deliverance, at what stage of the proceedings the papers shall be issued to the members; and
5.4 That in every case which the Assembly appoints to be conducted with closed doors, the instruction to issue the papers shall be accompanied by a special exhortation to the members to keep them private.
8. Motions and Votes
1. That every motion, whether original or amended, if not already in the hands of the Clerk, shall be given into the Clerk in writing, as soon as it shall have been made to the House.
2. That the person who makes the first motion shall be entitled to the privilege of giving a reply, in which new matter must not be introduced; and that thereafter the debate shall be held to be definitely closed, and no other person shall be entitled to speak excepting with regard to the manner of putting a vote.
3. That all motions after the first that are truly amendments on the first motion shall be disposed of in accordance with Standing Order No. E.7.6 below, and that when an amendment raises an issue different from that in other amendments, it shall be dealt with as a direct counter-motion.
4. That where there are only two motions before the House, the question put to the vote shall be second or first motion.
5. That when there are three motions, the first question shall be, whether the second or third motion shall be put as amendment against the first; and the second question shall be, whether the first motion or the amendment so fixed shall be the decision of the House.
6. That when there are more than three motions, the first question shall be whether the last proposed shall be put as the amendment, and so till only three remain, when the procedure shall be as prescribed in the immediately preceding sub-section.
7. That in Causes, it shall not be competent to move an amendment to the motion, unless it be of such a nature as to decide the case, or to forward it in its progress.
8. That when any proposal has been submitted in the Report of a Committee any motion for approval of such proposal shall take precedence of any counter-motion or amendment.
9. Mode of taking the Vote
1. That on a division being called for, all parties who are not members, but have the privilege of entering the House, shall withdraw.
2. That on a division being called for the Clerk shall announce that no member ought to vote against a motion or amendment who has not been in attendance during the discussion thereof; that thereafter no one shall be permitted to enter the House till the vote has been taken and the result declared; that two or four Tellers shall be appointed by the Moderator, drawn equally from supporters of each motion before the House; and that these Tellers shall take their place at the Clerk’s table. But when the issue of a vote by show of hands is not immediately obvious the Tellers shall count the votes seat by seat taking up their positions at the ends of each seat in turn in order to do so.
3. That the vote shall, in the discretion of the House, be taken either by calling of the Roll or by a show of hands, or by card.
4. That as soon as the vote shall have been taken, the Tellers shall report the state of vote to the Clerk of Assembly, who shall write it down, and announce it to the House.
5. That the Report of the Tellers, when announced to the House, shall be held as final and conclusive, and not subject to any revision by scrutiny or otherwise.
10. Dissents
1. That no dissents against any deliverance of the Assembly shall be given in until the matter in which it is pronounced is, for that session, disposed of, the Minutes are completed and adjusted, and the House is ready to proceed to other business.
2. That prepared reasons for dissent or complaint be not engrossed in the Minutes of the Assembly or its Commission but held in retentis. Where a brief statement is written at the time of lodging a dissent, it may at the discretion of the Court be engrossed in the Minute. At meetings of the Commission, members of the Commission shall have the right to request permission for leave to Complain by submitting to the Assembly Clerk reasons for a Complaint within ten days, such reasons to be held in retentis. Both the Commission and Assembly may refuse to receive Reasons if they are not couched in respectful language. Where Reasons for Dissent are held in retentis, the General Assembly or their Commission shall appoint a Committee to answer Reasons, except where the Reasons are deemed frivolous or unspecific. When the Assembly appoints such a Committee, it shall report to the Commission of Assembly at its October meeting. If such a Committee is appointed by the Commission, it shall report to the next stated meeting of the Commission, or to the following General Assembly, whichever falls first. The Committee’s Report shall contain both the Reasons and the Answers, and, if the Report is adopted, it shall be engrossed in the Minutes.
11. Drafts of Declaratory or Interim Acts and Overtures
That the Draft of any proposed Declaratory or Interim Act, as also the Draft of any Overture which it is proposed to transmit to Presbyteries for their opinion in terms of the Barrier Act, shall be laid on the Table of the Assembly, and printed and circulated among the members, at least one session of the Assembly before a motion be made for the passing of such Declaratory or Interim Act, or for the transmission of such Overture to the Presbyteries of the Church.
12. Letters addressed to the Moderator
That all letters addressed to the Moderator for the purpose of being communicated to the Assembly, shall, in the first instance, be laid by him before the Assembly Business Committee, who shall advise the Moderator as to the way of disposing of them.
13. Deputations from other Churches, etc.
1. That the list of corresponding Churches and Societies shall be as determined by the General Assembly from time to time on the recommendation of the Assembly Business Committee.
2. That deputies from corresponding Churches or Societies shall forward their commission or letters of introduction so as to reach the Clerk of Assembly not later than the first day of May in each year; and he shall submit the same to the Assembly Business Committee so that arrangements may be made for the deputies to address the General Assembly.
3. That deputies from Churches and Societies other than those aforesaid shall likewise forward Commissions or letters of introduction to reach the Clerk of Assembly not later than the first day of March, and he shall report the same to the Commission of Assembly meeting in that month, who shall be empowered to decide which of the deputies shall be received by, and invited to address the Assembly. In the event of failure of the Commission to meet, the Assembly Business Committee shall meet at the earliest opportunity, and shall decide which deputies shall be received by, and invited to address the Assembly.
4. That in the case of strangers who may be desirous of being introduced to the Assembly and addressing the House, notice thereof shall be conveyed to the Moderator, who shall report the same to the Assembly Business Committee, that they may advise in the matter.
14. Examination of Synod and Presbytery Records
1. That the Synod and Presbytery Records shall be submitted to the Assembly Clerks’ Office not later than 31st March.
2. That the Assembly Clerks’ Office shall examine the Synod and Presbytery Records and report to the General Assembly through the Business Committee on the results of the examination.
3. That the Assembly Clerk is authorised to attest as correct such records as have passed the examination with regard to form and content.
4. That the Business Committee report on the examination of Synod and Presbytery Records be sent to Presbyteries and engrossed in their records.
15. Examination of Minutes of Boards and Committees
1. That the Minutes of Committees and Boards shall be called for at the first Session of the Assembly.
2. That a Committee shall be appointed for examining the same, who shall fill up a schedule with the information required by the Assembly regarding each book – said schedule to be returned when the report of the said committees shall be called for.
3. That a copy of the Committee’s Report, as sustained by the Assembly, shall be transmitted to Boards and Committees, and engrossed in their Record.
16. Additional General Assembly Committees
1. That a Committee be appointed to prepare a report on deceased minister and elders for the period commencing from the last Assembly with the report presented to the General Assembly at the last Session.
2. That a Committee be appointed to act as the Receiving Party for the visit of the Lord High Commissioner.
17. Printing of Assembly’s Proceedings, etc.
1. That the Minutes of Commission, together with roll of matters to be taken up on the following days, and lists of members of Committees, be printed and placed in the hands of the Members of Assembly on the opening day.
2. That when a motion is duly seconded, and in possession of the Assembly it shall not be competent to make any alterations upon it without the permission of the House, excepting in the shape of an amendment, or second or third motion, as the case may be, regularly proposed to the Assembly.
18. Minutes
That the minutes adopted at any of the sessions of the Assembly be passed to Commissioners at the end of each day in electronic form where possible and that they be approved of only at a morning session of the Assembly, with the exception of the minutes of the last day of the Assembly’s sittings, which minutes shall be read over and approved of before the rising of the Assembly.
19. Standing Orders
1. That the Standing Orders be held as read by vote in the First Session of the Assembly, and immediately before the appointment of Committees of the Assembly, and that they be printed in the first day’s proceedings.
2. That the operation of Standing Orders may be suspended on a motion without notice, and by resolution of the Assembly, carried by a majority of at least two thirds of its Commissioners.
3. That a proposal to change Standing Orders must come by overture from the floor of the General Assembly or from the Assembly Business Committee.
4. That a proposal to suspend Standing Orders may not be made for the purpose of introducing new items of business to the General Assembly other than for emergency items or items of a time-critical nature.
20. Conduct of Commissioners
1. That courtesy demands that all sessions of the Assembly be attended by Commissioners, and that private meetings should not be held during the sessions of the Assembly.
2. That with the exception of comfort breaks the Moderator shall require the permission of the Assembly for absence from the chair during sittings of the Assembly. The Moderator shall not undertake visits on behalf of the Assembly without their prior authority.
3. That the use of all forms of social or electronic communications media during private sessions of the Assembly when confidential matters are being discussed or debated is prohibited.
4. That the use of all forms of social media for the purpose criticising or passing judgement on decisions of the General Assembly or on its Commissioners is prohibited for the sake of the honour and good name of the General Assembly.
21. Recording of Assembly Proceedings
1. Recording of Assembly proceedings by video recorder etc., by television companies, or by sections of the media shall not be permitted unless prior permission has been received from the Assembly Media Officer acting in accordance with guidelines provided by the Assembly Business Committee.
2. Use of flash photography by private individuals during the proceedings of the General Assembly shall not ordinarily be permitted, though exception will be made in cases such as the installation of the Moderator, reception of delegates, and presentation of individuals to the Moderator.
3. Notwithstanding the above, the Assembly Business Committee shall have the power to make arrangements at any time for the recording in any way of any part of the Assembly proceedings by any means they consider appropriate.
22. Media Officer
The General Assembly shall have the Church’s Media Officer act as their Media Officer. The Assembly Media Officer shall be responsible inter alia for liaison with representatives of the media and giving such guidance as may be necessary for them to carry out their duties.
F. AS TO BOARDS AND COMMITTEES
1. Types of Committee
That the business of the Church between one Assembly and the next ensuing shall be carried on by Standing Committees and Boards together with the Assembly Business Committee. Membership of committees, boards and panels in all cases of ex officio appointments shall be confined to ministers holding a seat in a Presbytery of the Church or to bona fide acting elders of the Church. In all other cases of ex officio involvement in the work of Committees and Boards those appointed shall be regarded as consultants to the relevant Committee or Board.
2. Composition of Standing Boards and Committees
1. That Standing Boards and Committees shall consist of the following:
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. 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.
1.2 Assembly Clerks’ Office to make all arrangements for the General Assembly reporting to the General Assembly, either directly or through the Business Committee of the 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.
1.3 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.
1.4 Membership: Thirteen members in total including the Principal Clerk of Assembly ex officio. The remaining membership shall comprise at least four ministers and at least six office-bearers, of whom up to two might be deacons, 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.
1.5 Communications Oversight Group to produce, on an annual basis, material relating to public questions in which the church has an interest with a view to fulfilling our duty to speak the Word of the Lord to those in power in the nation and to maintain a prophetic witness; to exercise oversight of digital communication output and denominational publications; appoint editors and content editors; to facilitate the flow of information about matters of general interest to and from individuals, congregations, presbyteries and Boards of the Church; to oversee the Church’s website and social media and to promote the application of new technology to the work of the Church where appropriate; and to secure an overarching information strategy for the central church.
1.6 Membership: Six members in total. The Chair shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees (in consultation with the Mission Board), and other members shall be appointed by the Mission Board (two members) Seminary Board (one member), Board of Ministry (one member) and Board of Trustees (one member in addition to Chair). The Group members will be ministers or elders with an interest and passion for the area. Expert advisers in relation to technology and social media would be invited to input to the Group as and when required. The Group is expected to obviate travel time and costs through the use of communications technology.
1.7 Media Oversight Group to support the Church’s Media Officer and Parliamentary Officer; to help respond to matters which represent a significant threat to the reputation or impact of the Church; to be consulted on, and help shape major responses to, government consultations and the Church’s reaction to government legislation and policy.
1.8 Membership: Chairman of Mission Board, Chairman of Board of Trustees, Assembly Clerk, CEO and Mission Director. Given the nature of the work, the Group will conduct its business by telephone and email.
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.
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.
2.2 The Student Finance Scheme shall be overseen by the Board of Ministry in consultation with the Chief Administrative Officer.
2.3 Membership: Nine members in total including the Principal of ETS (or his nominee) and one other member of the ETS Senate appointed annually by the Senate on an ex officio basis. The remaining membership of the Board of Ministry 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.
3. Mission Board to discharge the functions of the Home Missions Board and the International Missions Board as previously constituted, and to assume responsibility for developing appropriate denominational partnerships at home and abroad, as well as partnerships with other organisations and agencies, in order to enhance the Church’s ability to reach out with the Gospel.
3.1 Membership: Eight members in total comprising six ministers and two 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.
4. ETS Board to discharge the functions of the Edinburgh Theological Seminary Board as presently constituted.
4.1 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 fouryear 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 fouryear 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.
5. Ecumenical Relations Committee to promote, foster and develop relations with other denominations and like-minded believers in seeking the propagation of the gospel and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom in Scotland and beyond. The Committee will take steps to promote and protect the position of the Free Church of Scotland with respect to her place in the wider Church. The Committee carried out its remit as defined by this Act and as the General Assembly may appoint.
5.1 Membership: Seven members in total comprising the Mission Director, the Mission Board Chairman, the Principal Clerk, Assistant Clerk Representative, the Moderator, the Principal of Edinburgh Theological Seminary, and one Elder, appointed for a four-year term, with the Convener appointed by the General Assembly and the Principal Clerk appointed as Clerk to the Committee.
6. Psalmody & Praise Committee to discharge the combined functions of the Psalmody Committee and the Special Committee on Praise.
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. 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.
3. 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 48, Class 2, 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.
4. That in accordance with Act 24, Class 2, 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.
5. That 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.
6. That 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.
7. That 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.
8. That with the exception of the Board of Trustees and the Psalmody & Praise Committee, each Committee and Board referred to in 1-6 above shall hold three statutory meetings per annum, with the liberty to arrange additional meetings as required.
9. That in the selection of names of Ministers and Elders to form any Special Committee, which is to report to a subsequent Assembly, the Assembly shall not be restricted to its own members.
10. That when the appointment of a Special Committee has been resolved on, the Committee shall not be nominated till the following day, except in cases the urgency of which does not admit of a day’s delay.
11. That no Committee shall sit while the Moderator is in the Chair at any session of the Assembly’s meeting.