The Board of Trustees record their gratitude to “those who give generously to the work of the Church and commends congregations that have worked hard to meet the remittance requirements” in their report to the General Assembly.
Congregational remittances and other donations increased by around four-per-cent in the last financial year and it is thought that this rise largely reflects the contribution from new congregations who recently joined the Free Church of Scotland.
The Board is grateful that the Church “almost matched recurring expenditure with recurring income in the year”, the report states.
It is hoped that special projects benefiting from the new Development Fund will lead to further sustainable growth in the denomination.
The first round of applications, overseen by the Mission Board and the Trustees, are in progress with an announcement expected later in the summer.
Another key item in the Board of Trustees report is the need for more comprehensive statistics.
The Trustees are encouraging all areas of the Free Church to regularly strategically plan and review, which will in turn lead to better-informed members making better-informed decisions to help support growth.
The report reads: “The Board believes that good planning focuses people on the right things and also enhances the stewardship of limited resources.
“The Board has introduced a revised congregational statistics return and it is hoped the results, which will be disseminated across the Church, will be easier to analyse and provide useful data for planning purposes.
“The Board believes that good statistics are essential in understanding what we are doing as a Church and also the areas where we are failing to make an impact.”
A review of the duties and responsibilities of the Moderator of the General Assembly is also proposed by the Board, and would report back to the 2017 Assembly following consultation with the Assembly Clerks Office.
The Trustees believe it “may be useful to review the appointment process and the remit”, acknowledging an “external expectation that where the Church speaks nationally the Moderator is the representative of the Church”.
At present the activity of the Moderator varies from year to year, but the Board wishes to see more planning around this role – particularly between General Assemblies.
Two overtures from last year’s Assembly – which proposed an increase in proportional representation to the Assembly and separately measures relating to the election of elders to the Assembly – did not receive a majority approval of Presbyteries and were defeated.
Finally, with the resignation of Rev James Maciver as Principal Clerk of the General Assembly, the Board has sought nominations for his replacement. Mr Maciver is stepping down at the conclusion of the 2017 General Assembly, and the appointment of his successor will be announced before the close of the General Assembly.
Board of Trustees chairman James Fraser CBE (pictured above) will present their Assembly report on the morning of Tuesday 24 May. Download a copy here.