Mission planning conclusions

Mission Development Planning – Congregational Meeting 21.7.19
This 5th meeting when 15 people attended drew together the themes we had been discussing and suggested some conclusions…

David Logue briefly gave the background to the meeting and went over the summary sheet of discussion to date.
We discussed the three main options set out in the paper and then considered the questions listed on the second page.

Following discussion on the options listed, the general consensus was:
Option 1 – Status quo – three ministers – This is not realistic in view of the shortage of ministers and the financial constraints on the Church of Scotland.
Option 2 – Two full time ministers shared between the five parishes with support from readers/ ordained local ministers. This would increase the work load on the two ordained ministers without gaining any benefit for the parishes.
Option 3 – One minister and one other post – eg a mission development person or a youth worker or an elderly persons worker or two part time posts, with support from readers/ordained local ministers. This would provide for overall leadership and overview by an ordained minister with a team of one other full time “MDS” person – who could concentrate on Community outreach/youth work/ older people work etc., across Mid Argyll (possibly two part time posts). Church members would be encouraged to take on roles, such as Pastoral care, worship leading, assisting youth work, etc. The minister would lead a team of paid and voluntary staff across the whole area.
With this model we may also be able to gain extra finance from C of S for a second “MDS” post or similar.
This option appears to offer the most potential for Mission development for the area.

We then looked at the questions on page 2 of the summary sheet and had wider ranging discussion on these:
What are the pros and cons of having two ministers?
Pro – Shared workload, ordained ministers more available for Sunday worship in each Parish, and for communion services. Some people expect a minister’s visit rather than an elder.
Con – Leaves the bulk of the workload on the two ministers. Will reduce the opportunity for employing Mission Development staff – for specialist or dedicated outreach in the area. Would remove the impetus to have one united Parish of Mid Argyll. (see below)
What are the pros and cons of having one minister and Mission development person etc.?
Pro – One minister would have Mid Argyll Parish of about 400 members and a population of 5,800 which is a manageable number. Employing an MDS to do community outreach would provide a specialist who could concentrate on both reaching out to the community, and working with church members to take on voluntary roles. The number of parish administrative roles would be greatly reduced – e.g. Session Clerk, treasurer, Safeguarding, Presbytery elder, Property convenor etc. This would free up people for other activities. One parish across Mid Argyll would bring together a “critical mass” of Christians to resource church initiatives. We also suggested that we could have one united service for the whole area, once a month, with local services on the other Sundays.
Con – Sunday worship services – Minister would take one each week leaving the others to be led by “lay people” e.g. Local worship leaders, readers, retired ministers etc. Members would not be visited at home by the minister except in special circumstances.

Can we make a case for funds for another full time outreach worker?

We think that if we can adopt this model of a united Mid Argyll parish with one minister then we have good case to get funds for another paid post – at least as a trial as we get established.

Are we willing to continue having congregation members, readers etc taking services regularly?

Yes, this is well supported and helps to grow the faith of members. It was commented that generally during a vacancy church members pull together and the variety of worship leading styles and content is beneficial. It encourages members to get involved and increases faith. It was also recognised that sometimes in long vacancies the members become less enthusiastic as there appears no end to the vacancy.

What buildings do we think we need across Mid Argyll?

One suitable place of worship in each of the five parishes to maintain and develop local community worship, and outreach.
A suitable place of worship should ideally have a flexible layout, kitchen and toilets.
One building in Mid Argyll suitable for united monthly services, and other larger events.

What, if any, building do we need to serve the Crinan, Bellanoch, Cairnbaan areas?

There is no place for this community to meet at the moment. It was agreed that this should be addressed in some way – e,g. A “community Hub” for meetings, groups to get together, and for worship. Bellanoch church is well placed if the facilities can be improved – toilets and kitchen and parking, and this needs to be explored.

It was also suggested that the small rural church buildings – particularly Bellanoch and Achahoish provide places of quiet and contemplation, and embody the tradition of worship in these areas. Some effort should be made to preserve this.

What building, if any, do we need in Tayvallich and Achnamara.

The hall in Achnamara is proving to be a very good centre for the community and for church activities. There are plans in progress to look at adding an extra space to Tayvallich Church to improve the kitchen and to provide a comfortable setting for groups and meetings. The interior of the church could also be revised to be more flexible.

Conclusions
There was clear consensus at the end of the meeting that the preferred way forward is for Option 3 and structured as a single parish of Mid Argyll. We would plan to improve the facilities at Tayvallich church and explore how we can develop Bellanoch church into a community hub.

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