Any extra available denominational finance should be reallocated so there can be a greater investment in the ministry apprenticeship programme, the Board of Ministry has said.
Following presentations to Presbyteries and representatives from other Free Church committees and Edinburgh Theological Seminary, the Board of Ministry reported that there had been “a positive and supportive welcome”.
The Board believes that several individuals and congregations had already benefitted from this type of ministry training, and in particular candidates for the ministry had entered formal training with a “better understanding of the work” and “an excellent attitude” towards further study.
Chairman Rev Angus MacRae (pictured below) explained: “The Board of Ministry is thankful for the interest and support voiced for this venture.
“At present the Board of Trustees has been unable to offer additional financial support to the Board of Ministry so that the Board can act as a stakeholder by making small grants available towards the overall cost of an Apprentice appointment.
“The Board seeks budgetary provision of £6,000 per annum for an Apprentice in Ministry Scheme.
“The Board is persuaded that having a budget for such grants will assist the mission of the Free Church and will fit well with the vision of the Board.
“The Board recognises that the Trustees can only make funds available for such a scheme when the financial position of the church allows. The Board respectfully requests that the Board of Trustees keep this matter under review and asks that consideration be given to creating a budget for this purpose when funds allow.”
The other key piece of business is that the Board wishes to combine several Acts of Assembly into a single comprehensive piece of church legislation which deals with admission to the ministry.
One of the changes, due to numbers received over the past few years, is that applications from ministers in other denominations will now become a permanent feature of the Commission of Assembly.
With an expanding workload and limited time at meetings, a couple of remits from the 2015 General Assembly will not be fulfilled until next year.
The first of these is further study into whether regular resident supply preachers should be able to preside at baptism and communion services.
A consultation of best practice on pastoral care, especially for those who have been absent on a longer-term from ministry, will also feed back to the Assembly of 2017.
Another potential item for next year is the pilot scheme for candidate assessment, which the Board hopes will help better identify suitable ministry gifts in applicants.
It will examine areas such as spiritual discipline, resilience, leadership skills, as well as testing if a candidate is familiar with the contemporary culture and knows how to apply unchanging biblical truth in that context.
If successful, proposals will be brought to next year’s Assembly with the possibility of extending it to those seeking admission from other denominations.
Overall, the Board is very positive for the future, noting that there were 19 Free Church ministry candidates from pre-Seminary to third year.
Chairman Rev Angus MacRae will present the Board of Ministry report at the morning session on Thursday 26 May.
Click here to download the 2016 Board of Ministry report to the General Assembly.