The 2015 Free Church of Scotland General Assembly gets underway tonight (18 May) in St Columba’s Free Church in Edinburgh.
For the next four days commissioners will hear from various boards and committee’s about the Church’s work.
This year’s Moderator is Rev David Robertson, minister of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, who succeeds Rev David Miller.
There will be the usual guest speakers from other denominations and mission organisations, as well as the visit of the Lord High Commissioner on Thursday (21 May).
This Assembly will see the two mission boards merge into one, in a bid to improve the strategic coherence of the Free Church’s mission work.
With Home Missions Board development officer Rev Neil MacMillan leaving to go full-time at the new Morningside church plant, the new board wishes to create a new missions director post to help shape, co-ordinate and promote mission.
As well as presenting the annual Lyle Orr Awards to outstanding young people following Bible study and activities, the Youth Committee expect to launch ‘Pointing to Jesus’ – a report reviewing Sunday School practice as well as a guide for resources and ideas.
In other significant developments, the improvement in the Church’s finances, thanks to generous giving from congregations and careful management of expenditure, has allowed the Board of Trustees to establish a new Development Fund to help support opportunities for growth. An initial sum of £75,000 has been allocated to the fund, which congregations, Presbyteries, Boards and projects can bid for. Time-limited funding would be given to projects and activities designed to make current work more sustainable and that could stimulate growth.
The General Assembly will consider whether to appoint a full-time Principal for Edinburgh Theological Seminary. ETS have compiled a business plan seeking to build on their recent work. This includes the aim of attracting 300 students (mix of full and part-time) by 2020.
Visitors will be able to watch sessions live on the Free Church website, as well as download the timetable and reports for the week.
The opening ceremony coincides with the 172nd anniversary of the Disruption when the denomination was formed.