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Strategic Plan Rejected

Monday May 21 2018

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has thrown out a proposed 10-year strategic plan in favour of more radical plans.

The Assembly voted heavily in favour of a counter-motion from the Rev Robert Allan which effectively rejected the Council of Assembly’s proposed strategy. Instead, it called for the Council to return next year ‘with a radical action plan for 2019-2022 to achieve much-needed reform within our Church’.

Mr Allan told the Assembly: “To agree to this plan would be to put another nail in the coffin of the institutional church. It’s to our shame in the church that we change slowly. We follow the one who turned the world and organised religion upside down in a relatively short time. What we need is urgent, radical action. We have had 60 years of decline and it will be worse in 10 years.”

He was forcefully backed by most speakers, including the former Moderator the Very Rev Dr Derek Browning, who said of the strategic plan: “I have rarely read a report from any Council of this Assembly that has caused me so much disappointment. On Saturday I spoke about building bridges, but this plan is building castles in the air. (It) is very thick on gloss and very thin on substance. My fear is if the current plan proposed by the Council goes ahead this thin and insignificant plan will disappear back into the Council of Assembly and decisions about the future direction of the Church will be made by the Council and not this Assembly.”

The Assembly backed Mr Allan’s countermotion by 439 votes to 130. The rest of his proposals, which included using the Rev Dr Doug Gay’s proposals in last year’s Chalmers lectures as a guide, and challenging presbyteries to produce plans which are ‘robust, imaginative and courageous in reducing the number of charges’, will be discussed later in the week after commissioners complained that they had not had sufficient time to consider them.

During discussion on the future of the national office, despite complaints about how long the process is taking and how much it is costing, the General Assembly agreed to allow the Council to continue working and bring back proposals to next year. These could still involve substantial refurbishment of the offices at 121 George Street or moving out.

General Assembly home


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