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Home  >  News  >  Manses Must Meet Energy Efficiency Standards, Assembly Rules

News

Manses Must Meet Energy Efficiency Standards, Assembly Rules

Wednesday May 25 2022


Church of Scotland congregations will in future have to make sure their ministers’ manses reach energy efficiency standards.

Following Saturday’s debate about ministers and fuel poverty, the General Trustees today accepted new measures aimed at making sure manses are kept to a good standard and are energy efficient.

Congregations were instructed to provide an Energy Performance Certificate with the Manse Condition Schedule from the end of this year, and to ensure the Energy Performance Rating for the manse is within categories A-C by 2025 – either by making improvements or replacing the manse.

The Rev Mike Goss said the energy bills faced by ministers were not sustainable, and argued that the definition of a ‘habitable’ manse, which congregations have a duty to provide their minister, should include ‘heatable’. “We need to think very hard about how we provide heating in our ministers’ manses,” he said.

The General Trustees and Faith Nurture Forum were also instructed to work with Presbyteries on an audit of current stock of manses on energy efficiency, maintenance to a good standard and future sustainability, although Grahame Lees, presenting the Trustees’ report, said that such work was already underway.

The Trustees also encouraged Commissioners to the General Assembly to write to their MSPs to protest against new rules which will require church office bearers to be named on the Land Register.

Mr Lees told the Assembly that under the rules, the public listing of building’s legal owner must also include a list of the owner’s ‘associates’. For the General Trustees, that will mean having to submit details of each congregation’s minister, treasurer and session clerk, and updating those details every time they change.

Mr Lees added: “We are engaging, through the Solicitor of the Church, with the Scottish Government in an attempt to convey the disproportionate impact which the legislation will have on the Church and secure an amendment of the legislation so as to exempt the Church from its provisions… We will be in touch direct with Congregations once we have more to report but in the meantime I would encourage all Commissioners to be in touch with their MSPs to raise their concerns about this piece of legislation.”

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During the report of the Safeguarding Committee, ministers of the Church were instructed to undertake safeguarding training. The convener, Adam Dillon, said: “I appreciate that this might be an unwanted burden this time, but why would we not want to avail ourselves of the highest level of training to protect the weakest of our folk?”

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The day closed with a question about an amendment to the Marriage Services Act resulting from Monday’s decision to allow same sex marriages in the Church of Scotland. The Rev Michael Weaver said there was concern among ministers holding the traditional position of marriage about the removal of the words ‘husband and wife’.

The Procurator, Laura Dunlop QC, said that the inclusive language did not preclude the use of additional wording.

Legal Questions Committee convener the Rev Dr Grant Barclay said: “This is a convenient approach which covers all the necessary bases. It also covers a situation where man and a woman are being married and for their own reasons do not wish to be addressed as husband and wife. That will permit me as a minister to declare, after they have exchanged vows, that they are married and then use such additional language, having already fulfilled the requirements of the Recognition of Marriage Services Act, that appeal and are appropriate to them in their setting.

“I offer to the Assembly the view that the wording here is sufficient and is not prescriptive. It both protects and permits, and therefore fulfils the requirements that the Assembly imposed upon the Legal Questions Committee when it instructed us to do this work.”


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