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Commission of Assembly to Consider Presbytery Mergers

Friday April 24

Three new presbyteries of the Church of Scotland are set to be approved next month by a ‘virtual’ Commission of Assembly.

Following the cancellation of this year’s General Assembly, the Commission has been called to consider business deemed urgent but uncontroversial. Any debate about any of the decisions will be held in a virtual session on Saturday May 16, which was to have been the opening day of the General Assembly.

A Commission of Assembly consists of a tenth of the Commissioners who made up the last General Assembly. As no Assembly is being held this year, the membership of the current Commission (which met last November to approve central church restructuring) remains the same.

The most eye-catching of the proposals facing the Commission is the three presbytery mergers, which mark the first steps towards reducing the number of Scottish presbyteries to around 12, as agreed last year in the Radical Action Plan.

The three new Presbyteries will be:

  • The Presbytery of Fife, made up of the existing Presbyteries of Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and St Andrews
  • The Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland, merging the Presbyteries of Aberdeen and Shetland
  • The Presbytery of Clyde, merging Dumbarton and Greenock & Paisley

The Commission will also be asked to approve the appointment of the Rev Dr Martin Fair as the Moderator of the General Assembly for 2020-21, as well as agreeing appointments to certain committees and trusts.

The Rev Dr George J Whyte, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly, said: “Of course, the Church is not meeting in General Assembly this year. There are some decisions which would normally be taken by a General Assembly and which need to be taken at this time, rather than wait until the next Assembly in 2021. We have characterised those decisions as ‘straightforward, time-critical and non-controversial’.

“Papers have therefore been sent out to members of the Commission of Assembly asking them to approve certain items of business.

“The methodology proposed is that if a member of the Commission agrees to these proposals they need take no action. If sufficient members request that a particular matter be discussed, the Clerks of Assembly will seek to arrange a virtual meeting of the Commission, to be held on Saturday May 16 2020.

“We hope in this way to keep the Church’s business moving on as regards these important matters.”

Full proposals and Commission of Assembly Papers.


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