For a considerable time now there has been concern about the ‘ministerial’ authoritarian goverance of the Presbyterian Church.
The latest example is the proposed appointment of Charitable Trustees which has caused great concern within our church.
As an elder with many years service I see it as yet another example of dictate from the employees (ministers and Church House staff) of the Presbyterian Church displaying an attitude with little regard for the employers (the ordinary decent folk within our congregations).
We learned a very short time ago that we had to sign a document to become a Charitable Trustee of the church.
Little information was provided as to what it meant or what the consequences were in signing this document.
There has been no general information or debate in the ‘Presbyterian Herald’ or any other official publications of the church.
It was only, when having read the letter in the News Letter on the March 5, that we were alerted to the fact of personal liability and that if we did not sign we would cease to be an elder in the church.
In plain language Church House decide that if the democratically elected elders in congregations do not adhere to their command then you are sacked.
This with no regard to the (employers) ie the ordinary decent folk within the congregations.
In this dictate, has anyone ever had the common sense to consider what this is going to do to the church?
In every Kirk Session there are good friends and companions who serve the Lord and the church faithfully and with dignity. One, two or three of the elders in the session, because of the personal liability and other concerns feel unable to sign.
The remaining elders in the session are actually signing the dismissal notice of the elders who do not sign.
This is a recipe for splitting congregations and in the present Presbyterian declining numbers a very unwise route to follow.
The Presbyterian Church has not yet recovered and regained the trust of the people from the debacle of the Presbyterian Mutual Society. This latest episode could well end up in a similar ‘hand washing display’ with very serious consequences.
Could those in control, rather than pushing to get these documents signed in due haste, please take a step back before damage is caused to our church.
I would graciously remind them that the Lord did say in Matthew 16 verse 18
‘I will build my Church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it’.
I fully believe and subscribe to the truth of God’s word.
However, our Lord did not say that that Church would be Presbyterian.
Elder, Co Down