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’Necessary and long overdue’

The Rev Professor David Fergusson, Chair of the Special Commission on Structural Reform highlights the background to the report accepted by this year’s General Assembly.

A Special Commission was appointed by the Commission of Assembly in October 2019, its membership comprising David Fergusson (Convener) Sarah Davidson (Scottish Government), James McNeill QC, Morag Ross QC. Our task was to examine governance issues in the Unincorporated Councils and Committees of the Church (SC011353), and also to identify ways in which a ‘leaner’ organisation could better support the mission of the local church.

The trigger for the formation of this Commission was a series of intractable problems faced by the Council of Assembly. But our investigations quickly revealed that the difficulty in operating efficiently was not one confined to any one element of the organisation. Current problems include the loss of 4% of our membership per annum, the chronic shortage of ministers which is set to worsen with the anticipated number of retirements, the static level of congregational income, and the annual deficits (c£4.4m in 2018) now being incurred. Our membership has halved since the beginning of this century; if current trends continue, it is likely to halve again within the next 12–15 years.

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About Life and Work

IN THIS ISSUE HOLIDAY CLUB MISSION The churches engaging with children during school holidays 'GOD'S GIFT TO THIS BEAUTIFUL, DAMAGED WORLD' Interview with Eco-Congregations Chaplain, the Rev David Coleman ASSEMBLY 2019 The week in words and pictures ...and much more