The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has approved a “lean and fit for growth” plan amid fears the Kirk’s annual income could fall by an estimated £20m this year.
Commissioners approved a proposal to set congregational ministry and mission contributions at £38.1m in 2021 after the impact on the church’s finances due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Church’s total annual income is currently around £105m with next year’s contributions marking an 18% reduction on the previous year.
The Right Reverend Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, oversaw proceedings at The Mound in Edinburgh with the event taking place online – and only over two days instead of the usual week.
In a report, Assembly Trustees – appointed by the General Assembly in 2019 to oversee radical reforms – asked presbyteries to “exercise robust oversight which will prepare the Church for revising down the number of charges, buildings and ministries required across Scotland”.
It also called for “realistic predictions on the number of ministries that are needed and can be afforded in order to structure the local Church for mission and growth”.
The Very Reverend Dr John Chalmers, Assembly Trustees convener, said: “We were well on the way to evolving a plan of action when Covid-19 came along.
“Covid-19 has done to the Church what it has done in so many other areas of our common life – it has accelerated the need for change.
“A very different shape of church lies ahead and against the extraordinary challenges that we face, we have to be ready, lean and fit for purpose.
“We cannot go back to the old ways.”
The Trustees also paid tribute to ministers, deacons, other staff and volunteers across the Kirk, with Dr Chalmers saying they have “risen with energy and imagination” to meet the challenges of the last nine months.