Tell us your story
The Presbytery Strategic Planning Group (PSPG) has been tasked with creating the next 10 Year Plan for the Presbytery of Edinburgh. A challenging task at any time, but made more so by the situation of the national Church in which there is a pressing need for substantial transition in structures as indicated by the various reports to the GA 2019.
Our worship services and outreach efforts are sustained by many ageing and shrinking congregations, housed in centuries-old buildings, faced with shouldering the administrative burdens of financial constraints and never-ending fabric requirements. At the same time adjusting to the increasing shortage of properly trained and fully equipped full-time ministries, and seeking to encourage a more robust ministry of all believers, there are very few, if any, churches that have not had to either rise to the challenges or live with the anxieties of an uncertain future.
Add to that we have to recognise that not only the Church but the City in which we worship, witness, proclaim, and serve, is also changing and developing. The development of digital technologies, new patterns of work, the shape of family life, the effects of austerity on education and health-care provision, the lack of affordable housing, new housing developments, the cuts to public services, society’s involvement in culture and sport, are all areas that have changed substantially over the past few decades.
Yet the GOOD NEWS is that many local congregations have read the signs of the times and have realised that church has to adapt to these changes and find the right and appropriate ways to remain faithful to their identity as the People of God and the Body of Christ. Inspired by the Holy Spirit’s leading congregations are being transformed. Others, under the influence of the same Holy Spirit, have had to face difficult decisions with honesty and courage.
As was indicated by the convener at the Presbytery meeting in March 2019 the PSPG is at the first phase of its work which is about collecting information and data that will help it in the formulation of the Presbytery Plan. However, we have also stated that this Plan would not be imposed from above but be grown from the grassroots upwards.
Also, this Plan is not about adjusting to ministerial numbers or creating a wave of unions and linkages, it is about trusting God for growth and seeking to plant seeds and nurture green shoots. It is about working together in collaboration and partnership, with the intention of allowing the Plan to guide our aspirations and hopes for the next decade.
10 years ago all congregations took part in the Presbytery process Unless the Lord builds the house through which a picture of congregational life and future ambitions and challenges were revealed. But much has happened within society and church over the past decade with new thinking and models being initiated for preventing decline and managing change within the Church, and with more penetrating advances in communication technologies and entrenched patterns of secular behaviour taking place within society.
The story we told ourselves and each other back then may no longer be comparable with the story we need to share today. That is why we are asking each congregation to consider the questions we raise which will be added to the material previously gathered.
In the second phase we will want to provide gatherings of congregations across the city to have meaningful discussions about the final shape of that Plan as it has to take account of the various factors Presbytery agreed.
It would benefit our work greatly if we had a working knowledge of our congregations in relation to a few simple questions. We would ask that ministers, Kirk Sessions, and a representative small group of informed congregational members consider these and give us their honest answers.