I am afraid that Margaret Robertson’s letter (1 May) shows evidence of a hazy knowledge of the Church. The people who serve on the various councils and committees of the Church of Scotland are very far from being detached from the real world of congregational life.
All are ministers or members of their local congregations and bring that varied experience to bear on all their decisions. I am myself a busy parish minister in Kilmarnock and many of the staff who work in the Church offices are elders or members of their local congregations.
Far from such councils and committees forcing congregations to keep expensive buildings against their will, we find ourselves faced far more often with the situation where a local congregation wants to hang on to its buildings, at some considerable cost.
Just this week the Church has faced accusations in the media that it is selling too many buildings – it seems sometimes as if we cannot win.
The work of local congregations is the most important element in our service to the people of Scotland and we put the vast majority of our resources into parish work – over 90 per cent of all money raised by local congregations either stays there or is given back to congregations in the form of a minister and other parish staff.
About 7 per cent is retained for national functions such as safeguarding, world mission, ecumenical relations, youth work, mission support, social care, the General Assembly and, yes, some essential administrative functions such as payroll (or we ministers would not get our stipends in the bank).
We have just set up a cross-council working group to review strategic funding issues and to report to the 2015 General Assembly.
(Rev Dr) Grant Barclay
Convener, Council of Assembly
Church of Scotland