REMIT FOR LINK PASTORAL GROUPS
• To be a point of pastoral care for churches and people within the Link
• To make decisions required within the policies of Synod and General Assembly (e.g. Appointment of Interim Moderators and Pastorate Review visitors)
• Link Pastoral Convenor to be consulted when Synod Pastoral Committee is to decide on the scoping of a Pastorate
• The Link Pastoral Group will encourage relationships with churches and may arrange relationship-building events
• Link Pastoral Convenors will meet annually with the Convenor of the Pastoral Committee. Each convenor will provide an annual ‘story’ on the life of the Link at this meeting. These will be appended to the Pastoral Committee Report to Synod
• Link Pastoral Groups will receive reports of Pastorate Reviews and disseminate issues that might inform the wider church as appropriate. (e.g. Church Life/Church and Society)
• Link Pastoral Groups to be encouraged to use the Buddy System. West Link to provide an account of its experience in using the system.
• Link Pastoral Groups to encourage churches to share stories though SynNEWS and the website
• Link Pastoral Groups to support congregations and individuals in the exploration of vocation (e.g. youth work/ eldership/ community involvement/ lay preaching/ ministry)
• Link pastoral groups to produce a reference for candidates for ministry of word and sacraments, CRCWs and those seeking Assembly Accreditation as Lay Preachers
The number of people on each Link Pastoral Group will be half the number of churches that are in each of the four link regions (rounded up when there is an odd number of churches) Membership of the Link Pastoral Group is decided by the Synod Nominations sub-Committee from amongst those nominated for ‘wider church service’. The Moderator and the Field Officer will be ex officio on each Link Pastoral Group. Others may be invited to attend as and when deemed necessary by the pastoral group. It is important to ensure that the group is inclusively balanced (gender, age, ability, lay/ordained, ethnicity etc) and that those on the group have the appropriate skills to carry out this confidential task.
Pastoral Committee March 2009
Lay presidency at the Sacrament Holy Communion
The United Reformed Church affirms lay presidency at communion.
The United Reformed Church affirms that lay presidency at communion should, as with ministry of word and sacraments be authorised in proper order.
The United Reformed Church affirms that lay presidency at communion is normally to be authorised for instances of pastoral necessity when there is no minister available.
It is part of the ecumenical discipline of the United Reformed Church that, to enable others to appreciate the seriousness with which we take the principle of lay presidency, it is authorised in an orderly fashion.
In the synod of Scotland this means:
· A Church Meeting on recommendation from the Elders’/ Deacons’ Meeting should identify someone, normally from their congregation and normally an elder, who they feel called to invite to preside at communion when there is no minister of word and sacraments available/ in the case of pastoral necessity.
· The Synod encourages each congregation to name one (or two) such people in case of such need.
· The name(s) should be sent to the Secretary of the Synod Pastoral Committee which committee can give authority on behalf of Synod.
In accordance with United Reformed Church practice, people will be authorised for one year for a particular congregation at the request of the congregation, not at the request of an individual.
In order to keep record of this, Church Meetings are asked to submit the names of those they wish authorised for the following calendar year to the Synod Pastoral Committee for its autumn meeting each year.
The names of those authorised will be recorded in the Pastoral Committee’s minutes and reported to the Spring Synod.
Those so authorised for the first time will be expected to undertake training and preparation as provided by the Scottish College.
Those re-authorised to preside at communion in successive years will be encouraged to continue learning about liturgy and the theologies surrounding communion, particularly within the Reformed tradition
Those authorised for a sixth year of such service will also be expected to undertake such training and every 5 years thereafter.
If it is necessary for a Church Meeting to nominate someone outwith this sequence, it should do so through the Secretary of the Pastoral Committee. Such a nomination will be authorised for the remaining period of the calendar year. The church then falls into the pattern of nominating someone to be authorised each autumn.
Preparation and training is highly desirable. It will introduce those nominated to the theologies surrounding communion, to the practicalities of presiding at communion and to the range of liturgies available for worship of word and sacraments.
The Pastoral Committee should note when the denomination gives further guidance and consideration to the principle of lay presidency at communion.
In LEPs where there is a congregation of one or more denominations, it is important that there is a clear explanation both of the principle and disciplined authorisation of lay presidency at communion.
The Synod of Scotland adopts, pro tem, the paper on authorising lay presidency at Communion.
EM2 & EM3 PRESENTATION
It takes time to arrange a sabbatical and to plan for it in order to receive from this gift of the church to ministers and Church Related Community Workers (CRCWs) as positively as possible. This paper is written to clarify procedures for arranging sabbaticals within the Synod of Scotland. This paper assumes the principles and guidelines issued by the General Assembly from time to time are being followed and does not intend to undermine those principles. The paper therefore centres on the role of the Synod Pastoral Committee, acting on behalf of the Synod, discharging the Synod’s (formerly Area Councils’) responsibility for agreeing or not sabbatical leave.
The synod expects ministers/CRCWs to begin consulting about a sabbatical at least 12 months before they intend to begin the sabbatical.
Consultation needs to be with:
· The pastorate/ or post management where the minister/CRCW is working
· The College Principal acting as Synod Training Officer in URC-speak
· The Synod Pastoral Committee
The pastorate/ post
Pastorates will know, through the Plan for Partnership, of the entitlement and reasons for a sabbatical. It is helpful to pastorates for intentions to be discussed well in advance. Pastorates will be concerned about issues of timing/ pastoral care/ worship/ mission/ internal and community relationships etc whilst the minister/ CRCW is on sabbatical. The more time there is to address these issues the better.
This consultation is for consideration of educational priorities (in the widest sense) and often also needs to address the accessing of grant support. Money can only be released if the College Principal has been informed that the Synod (through the Synod Pastoral Committee) agrees the sabbatical, having discharged its responsibility as outlined. (Some grant making bodies require commendation from the synod moderator; s/he will only be able to give that once Synod Pastoral Committee has given permission.)
Synod Pastoral Committee
Acting on behalf of the Synod, the Pastoral Committee needs to agree the sabbatical. In order to do so the Synod Pastoral Committee needs:
a) to be in contact with the pastorate and address the following:
o is the principle of sabbatical appreciated?
o are there any issues that the pastorate is anxious about?
o is the pastorate able to plan for public worship?
o is the pastorate able to plan for pastoral care?
o how is the pastorate planning to cover those things that normally rely on the minister?
o would the pastorate appreciate an interim-moderator?
o is the pastorate aware of/ concerned about financial implications?
o are there any other issues to be considered?
b) to receive confirmation from the College Principal that the sabbatical is being well planned educationally
c) to be aware of other ministers/CRCWs also planning sabbaticals and to avoid there being more than one on sabbatical in any one ‘region’ at any one time
To achieve this it is vital that ministers/CRCWs inform the Secretary of the Pastoral Committee, the College Principal and the Synod Moderator of their intention to take a sabbatical 12 months before the sabbatical is planned. This allows time for consultation with the various parties to be arranged so that agreement is reached and permission given no later than 6 months before the sabbatical is due to begin. Consultation may begin earlier.
Some ministers/CRCWs will seek to undertake periods of study which will involve more time than the General Assembly (Plan for Partnership and Education & Learning Committee) rubric for EM2/3 allows for. EM2/3 arrangements will be in the terms of settlement as outlined in the Plan for Partnership.
Any minister/CRCW seeking to undertake such study should:
· Consult the College Principal who after consulting with the Convenor of the Synod Pastoral Committee will advise the minister/CRCW whether the minister/CRCW will be likely to exceed the General Assembly allowance (and therefore alter the terms of settlement agreed between the minister/CRCW pastorate/post and Synod when it concurred with the call).
· If the view of the College Principal and Pastoral Committee Convenor is that the terms of settlement are being changed, then permission is given by the Synod Pastoral Committee following the same procedure as outlined above for sabbaticals, indicating that the reason for such consultation is that the intended EM2/3 goes beyond that to which the pastorate/ post management agreed.
· A written altered terms of settlement will be agreed by pastorate/ post management and Synod Pastoral Committee prior to the intended study commencing.
Additional leave of absence
From time to time (indeed rarely) it may be right for a minister to receive leave of absence for a variety of reasons, sometimes personal and private. This may or may not include a programme of study/retreat. It is possible for the Synod Moderator in consultation with the Convenor of the Synod Pastoral Committee and with the agreement of the elders’/deacons’ meeting, to permit a limited period of leave of absence for specific (and sometimes unspecified) reasons. The college Principal would be available to give educational advice, though in this instance not to facilitate funding beyond the normal amount for EM3 annual allowance that may be available.
This is distinct from EM2/3 or sabbaticals and is highly exceptional. If such permission is granted, it may well be right to note that it can affect eligibility for future sabbatical leave.
The Synod of Scotland adopts the above process for sabbaticals and EM2/3 extensions.