16th January 2022
Announcement to the 3 Church’s in Grangemouth
The Churches in Grangemouth have been working hard at planning for the union of the 3 churches in the town. In particular the property group have given a significant amount of time to assess the buildings to bring a recommendation of which building would best meet the needs of our future Church.
However, at the commencement of our new Presbytery at the beginning of January we have been advised that the property assessments should cease until further notice from them. This is extremely disappointing in view of the progress we have made but Kirk Sessions are to be sent a video presentation and questionnaire to complete in February to give us an opportunity to share our mission, discussions and hopes and plans for the future.
This will have an effect on the timescales which we had set out in Grangemouth however it is hoped that after completing the questionnaires we will be given clear instruction on the way forward but it is now obvious that Presbytery will make the final decision with regards to the buildings and a Presbytery team will visit each of the buildings in the deliberations.
Please be assured that we will continue to keep you all informed of any updates we receive from Presbytery.
This statement is being read out at each of the 3 Churches this morning to ensure consistency in the information that is being provided to our members.
16th January 2022
9th November 2021
The Unitary Form of Constitution
At our Kirk Session & Congregational Board meeting held on Zoom on Monday 8th November 2021 it was agreed to adopt The Unitary Form of Constitution and to put this Constitution change to the congregation. A meeting of the congregation will be held after worship on Sunday 28th November 2021 in the Church Sanctuary and members are encouraged to come along to discuss this proposition and also vote on the proposal to change.
Information on The Unitary Form of Constitution is published below:
ZETLAND PARISH CHURCH;
Proposal to Improve our Church Structures:
Over the past few months, we have mentioned the Unitary Constitution in our meetings as a necessary way forward, as we prepare for union, but also as this is how we have been operating during Covid. This document is an aid to discussion regarding our future organisational structure in Zetland Church.
This document will give some food for thought- only pointers! But there are legal processes to go through to alter the way we, as a congregation work, and it is entirely appropriate that we consider these issues. Please read this document, think through the implications, so that we can have a discussion at our next meeting.
For many years, the constitution used in Zetland Church has been the Model constitution of Kirk Session and Board. Elders and non-elders can be members of any group which reports back to the Session or Board. This won’t change and includes members in the work of the congregation. It is widely recognised that there are many people within the congregation who have skills and gifts to offer in specific areas of the church’s life, and it would be good if we could widen this. It’s in these smaller groups that ideas form and are developed, where proposals can be teased out, to bring proposals to the Kirk Session and Cong Board. This would free the Congregational Board and Kirk Session to make the bigger decisions and give guidance on the overall direction of our mission within this parish/town.
With the passing of The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and the subsequent formation of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) by the Scottish Government many changes have been felt within congregations throughout Scotland.
As a charity, Zetland Church has charity trustees. Our trustees are made up of every member of the Kirk session and congregational board. Zetland is a designated religious charity, (DRC from now) and its trustees are accountable- for the Court now has powers to freeze the bank account of a DRC, if misconduct is established. It should also be noted that OSCR still has “teeth” if misconduct in a DRC is established as it can then remove DRC status, opening up the religious body concerned to the full range of regulatory controls which apply to secular charities. There are many duties and responsibilities placed upon a charity trustee, laid out in law in the charities act. They must act in the interests of the Charity. They must seek in good faith, to ensure the Charity operates in a manner, consistent with its purposes. They must act with the care and diligence that it is reasonable to expect of a person who is managing the affairs of another person. They have to ensure that the charity complies with directions, requirements, notices or duties imposed on it by virtue of the Act.
Part of the trustees’ responsibility is to ensure prudence and diligence within the congregation. It is the expectation that trustees will discharge their duties with the same prudence and diligence as they would use if they were entrusted with the management of the affairs of another person. This expectation includes regular attendance at meetings, careful attention to written reports and minutes and the ascertaining, whether by the questioning of other office?bearers attending meetings or otherwise, of all information necessary for the making of decisions. At times, office bearers may be called upon to take decisions concerning matters about which they are not competent to make judgements. It is important to “know what you do not know!” In such cases, the safe course is to postpone taking any decision until further advice has been obtained from a suitably qualified person.
Model Deed of Constitution:
Without going into too much detail, the Model Deed differentiates between the sacred and temporal matters, between the spiritual and material. The Kirk Session, while having overall responsibility for the dealings of the church, is primarily concerned with the spiritual well-being of the church members and for the missionary outreach to the parish. The Moderator of Session meetings is the Minister.
The decision making on the temporal matters of finance and fabric is ‘devolved’ to the Congregational Board, made up of elders and elected church members. The Board can be chaired by any of its members.
The Unitary Form of Constitution:
In 2003 the General Assembly introduced a new form of constitution, the Unitary Form, which appears remarkably similar to the old quoad omnia constitution that congregations were encouraged to move away from! Instead of a separation between spiritual and temporal, and between Kirk Session and Congregational Board, there is only one main court: the Kirk Session, which has oversight of both matters. The Unitary constitution allows a far more flexible approach to church structures; a clearer, better informed and faster decision-making structure; greater responsibility and independence given to committees and groups; little risk of duplication of decisions; fewer meetings for many members of the groups; the ability to promote a clearer sense of direction for the overall strategy of Zetland at this time; the provision of more time in Kirk Session meetings to devote to spiritual matters, group discussion! The ability to retire or take a sabbatical from duties, which would hopefully bring a new enthusiasm and vision, after having taken a break in which time there would be time for prayer, reflection and/or training and the involvement of the congregation, in ways which they enjoy, making them feel involved and appreciated.
Possible Problems to be Aware Of;
Balance the agenda so finance and fabric do not overshadow other important matters, eg. worship, mission, pastoral care.
The loss of the Congregational Board. However, it is important we do not lose the commitment and skill of the faithful members. Over the years Kirk session meetings have become a lot more open and anyone can attend and be part of it, and should be encouraged as it gives greater accountability of the Kirk session to the congregation.
A Possible Proposed Shape at Zetland Parish Church under The Unitary Form of Constitution:
Co-Ordinating Group– including convenors of Groups of the following
Resource Group Mission group Pastoral Group Worship Group
Members of the congregation who are not elders will still have the opportunity to serve on the Groups at the annual meeting of the congregation or be co-opted afterwards, allowing members of the congregation to serve all aspects of church life, not simply finance and property and still feel able to attend Kirk Session meetings. Whilst it is technically the case that only elders will have a vote at Kirk Session meetings the opinions of those serving on Groups will be listened to. Any major decisions affecting our church (for example the constitution of our church) will be taken to a congregational meeting so everyone can have their say.
The Kirk Session:
The Kirk Session would continue to have oversight of the whole life and service of Zetland; with responsibility for the spiritual and temporal oversight of the affairs of the congregation. In accordance with church law, Kirk Session meetings would be open to all members of the congregation. There would be an opportunity for any member of the congregation to speak, however final decisions would remain in the hands of the elders.
The Kirk Session would continue to be moderated by the Minister.
The Session Clerk would still be responsible for the orderly keeping of records of the Kirk Session, including keeping the minutes in proper form, for issuing extract minutes, and for dealing with all correspondence.
The need for an elder to cover each district should not be the sole criterion in deciding the number of elders required. Modern practice favours more attention being given to an individual’s special gifts and it shouldn’t be assumed that these include pastoral visiting. As Kirk Session has the duty of making arrangements for pastoral districts, it could be that one or more people are appointed for oversight of a district, who need not be elders- one suggestion is that districts may be larger or grouped according to need or similarities, perhaps, but served by a team who have gifts suitable to pastoral visiting, rather than by one person. Elders who have particular pastoral gifts could form a team to give extra care to the housebound and hospitalised. Creative thinking will need to be used to meet the real needs of the Grangemouth parish. If we’re honest we can identify and use the gifts of the elders, therefore a change in the district organisation would reduce the pressure to find elders to cover the districts. and involves other people (eg those who actually enjoy visiting.)
The Coordinating Group:
The introduction of a Coordinating Group follows the pattern of a business committee for the Kirk session, (similar to presbytery) which looks at group reports and devise an agenda for the meeting. The Coordinating Group would be moderated by the Session Clerk. A member of the group could be appointed as Secretary to take minutes. The Coordinating Group would comprise the Minister, Session Clerk, Convenors of Groups, and any other co-opted members.
The Groups are where the bulk of the work of Zetland will happen. They will comprise- elders, present Board members and members of the congregation. It would be recommended that each Group has a Convenor and Vice-Convenor (to call a meeting if the Convenor is not available). It would also be recommended that someone in each Group acts as Secretary to take a minute of each meeting and to prepare the report to the Kirk Session in coordination with the Convenor of the Group.
Method of Working:
Currently reports are made orally at meetings, whether at Kirk Session or the Congregational Board; Reports would be written and circulated prior to meetings. In addition, the minutes of the Kirk Session would be made widely accessible to the congregation and therefore make the Kirk session more accountable to the people it serves.
The model proposed is the same as that adopted by other congregations who have moved to the Unitary Form of Constitution. It is similar to the method of working of Presbytery.
We are moving forward as a congregation and this document is, but one way of ensuring that discussion is held within the leadership of the church about the best way forward. It is hoped this document will help outline our role as trustees of the charity and how best we can ensure that everything we do is able to be held up to scrutiny and, as trustees, we would be able to abide by the decisions that were made on our behalf. Please come along to the meeting on 28th November after Sunday Service ready to discuss this document and help shape the future of our leadership within Zetland.
17th October 2021
The Ministers and Session Clerks continue to meet regularly to discuss the future of how we progress to one Church in Grangemouth – at the moment we are creating a time-line for various actions/changes.
At the last United Kirk Session/Congregational Board meeting there were less that 25% of Church Elder’s in attendance across the three congregations. Some Church members attended the meeting. The next meeting will be on Wednesday 1st December at 7pm. Venue to be decided.
11th August 2021
Statement from the Grangemouth Ministers and Session Clerks- Aug 10th 2021
During the pandemic, it has been difficult to communicate with you all as congregations regarding the future of the Church of Scotland in Grangemouth.
This is just a little note to say that following the General Assembly in May, the Agreed Presbytery Plan for 1 congregation in Grangemouth with 1 minister was sisted (stopped). This does not mean the plan won’t happen, but just that it won’t happen imminently. The 3 ministers will be working together, and aim to draw up a Basis of Team Ministry, which will prepare for the way forward.
The General Assembly in May 2021 passed a new Act called the Presbytery Mission Plan Act, requiring Presbyteries to bring a new plan to Presbytery by Dec 2022. Therefore although the process has begun, the planned outcome of 1 minister and 1 building will not happen soon- mainly due to all presbytery plans being sisted; all vacancies after Dec 2021 being sisted to allow for more radical plans! Falkirk Presbytery started this task with the agreed plan in 2020. Please do not listen to any rumours you hear.
However, that doesn’t mean we stop seeking ways to worship and work together, and so the ministers and session clerks of the 3 congregations have agreed there should be another united meeting on Sept 22nd. The venue has still to be decided, depending on covid restrictions.
The ministers and session clerks have been meeting regularly during the pandemic, to discuss how it will be possible to move forward and so we do hope and pray that you, our members, will come along to this meeting, as the future involves you. Before Covid, members of the kirk sessions and congregations met, and so we hope this meeting will bring us all back together.
15th November 2020
Rev. Aftab Gohar Rev. Ronald Matandakufa Rev. Alison Meikle
Mr John Russell Mrs Helen Scott Mr Woody Speirs
Abbotsgrange Church Kirk of the Holy Rood Zetland Church
The Church of Scotland in Grangemouth.
The Future of the Church in Grangemouth.
Following the decision of Falkirk Presbytery on Tuesday 28th October, agreeing the whole Presbytery plan, which includes 1 minister, 1 OLM (Ordained Local Minister) and sharing 1 MDS (Ministry Development Staff) with Bo’ness, and 1 Church building in Grangemouth, we are writing this letter to inform you about this. Our congregations have known the plan was coming, but not when, or if it would be agreed, but the financial crisis the National Church is facing, has expedited the radical nature of planning within the Church. Covid has changed the Church of Scotland forever, and has compounded the crisis the Church is in.
In Grangemouth, the Ministers and Session Clerks have been working well together, the Sessions have been meeting and are beginning our journey together. We are missing so many of you, due to Covid, and so we want to give you the opportunity to know about the planned changes facing the Church in Grangemouth, but also to hear about your thoughts and concerns about the future, especially since the Presbytery plan has been agreed.
We know and understand some of you are missing the church fellowship and find change difficult, but we value your thoughts and comments. Please be assured that no decisions about the future have been taken by the Ministers and Session Clerks, and we do hope you will be part of the discussions for the future of the church in Grangemouth.
As congregations, we must keep talking together but more importantly work more closely together and to do that we need your help. If you have any suggestions/ comments, please send them to your Session Clerk.
Our next meeting will be on Wednesday December 16th at 7pm on zoom, and is open to everyone, online or on the phone, and we hope you will be able to participate in the discussions. Please speak to your minister or Session Clerk for the login details.
We all hope this letter finds you well. Please do not hesitate in contacting any of us.
Aftab Gohar, Ronald Matandakufa, Alison Meikle
John Russell, Helen Scott, Woody Speirs
1st November 2020
Here is a copy of an intimation which will be given to each of the congregations of Abbotsgrange, KHR and Zetland on Sunday 1st November. This intimation was agreed by the Ministers and Session Clerks and we look forward to sharing our views and ideas in the coming weeks/months as we proceed towards one church in Grangemouth
‘Following the decision of Falkirk Presbytery on Tuesday night, agreeing the Presbytery plan for there to be 1 minister, 1 OLM (Ordained Local Minister) sharing 1 MDS (Ministry Development Staff) with Bo’ness and 1 building:
We have known the plan was coming, so we need to keep talking together and it requires us all to work more closely together and we need your help. And so we have created some steps to enable the church in Grangemouth to move forward.
Step 1- Creation of the Vision Statement for the Church in Grangemouth.
Step 2- What does the vision statement mean for the church in Grangemouth?
Step 3- What are the consequences of the statement? What does that mean for us?
Step 4- How do we arrive at our end goal?
The Presbytery has set the date of April 2021, for the areas of Presbytery to have designated their buildings. If you have any suggestions/ comments, please give them to the Session Clerk. We need to do this quickly- we have a short time. At this time Grangemouth still has 3 ministers. No decisions have been taken by the ministers and session clerks, we hope you will be part of the discussions for the future of the church in Grangemouth.
Our next meeting is open to all on zoom, whether online or on the phone and we hope you will participate in the discussions’.
Please give some consideration to the four steps contained in the intimation. This item will be discussed at our CB/KS meeting on Monday evening.