THE findings of an inspection report on the Theological
Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church (TISEC) must be taken
seriously and acted on, the College of Bishops and the Primus told
the Synod in a lively debate on Friday.
TISEC was not previously part of the Quality in Formation (QFP)
process used to assess Regional Training Partnerships in the C of
E, and the SEC requested an inspection to see how the college - a
constituent part of General Synod, and with limited resources -
ranked alongside programmes in England.
It was judged fit for purpose, but, of the 16 criteria assessed,
two important areas were judged "No Confidence". These were
ministerial, personal, and spiritual formation; and government,
management, constitution, and organisation.
The Primus, the Most Revd David Chillingworth,
acknowledged that the complex structures of TISEC had, in practical
terms, made it "difficult if not impossible for significant change
to be proposed, considered, and carried through". There had been a
Church-wide feeling that change was needed, but different people
had seen different things.
"The arrival of this report changed things considerably. This is
an objective statement from an outside body, written by sympathetic
people with recognised expertise," he said. He emphasised a future
need to share aspects of training with ecumenical partners, but
acknowledged that this was proving "difficult to foster".
As significant change has been called for by September 2014, a
governance and formation working party, convened by Canon Anne
Dyer, has already been set up. The Synod also voted for a change to
resolutions to broaden the make-up of the Ministry Development
Dr Peter Smart, convener of the Ministry
Development Committee, was keen to emphasise that the two No
Confidence ratings "do not mean abject failure, but that aspects of
our life show unsatisfactory practice. Of course it was
disappointing. But TISEC is not a freestanding institution, and the
speed of decision-making cannot be as responsive as desired."
Jim Gibson (Glasgow & Galloway) welcomed
the report, and asked the blunt question: "Do we have the
resources? We have to find a budget for this." The Very
Revd Dr Emsley Nimmo (Aberdeen) emphasised the importance
of academic theology in the Churches, and urged the encouragement
of students to "study theology at our universities".
Dr Andrew Baron (St Andrews), a TISEC teacher
on contemporary issues, described the report as "a bit like a
newspaper story on something you have witnessed yourself: you
wonder whether the journalist was quite at the scene." The
inspectors had wanted to bring out that TISEC was shackled by being
run "as a sub-committee of a sub-committee". Formation was a matter
of indeterminate definition: four Methodist colleges had once been
described as respectively producing "preachers, pastors, priests,
The Revd David Mumford (Brechin) considered
formation to be "deeper than learning skills of the ministerial
craft". He was concerned that the inspectors had taken students'
views at face value: a wider and longer view had been needed.
Sari Salveson (Edinburgh) said that the Church
appeared to have lost ministries such as NSMs, who used to train at
TISEC. Graeme Hely (Glasgow & Galloway)
relayed to the Synod some feedback on a church placement: "Can we
keep the student, and send the rector back to TISEC?'"
Anne Jones (Standing Committee) wanted
assurance that TISEC teachers - "who are working their socks off" -
were being given all possible support. She would hate to see low
morale among staff. The Revd David Richards
(Edinburgh) urged the Synod to take the report seriously, and not
to dismiss the words and feelings of the students. "They feel it,
live it, give what they have. Please do not deride them."
He also called for the Church to be clear about what it was
looking for in future ministerial candidates: "Look at different
types of candidates, who will do things differently. Otherwise, we
are just rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic."
CLERGY in the SEC will retire at 67 instead of the
present 65, to take effect from 1 January 2014. Increases in future
pensionable stipend or salary will be no more than the increase in
the Retail Prices Index.
Andrew November, chairman of the
Pension Fund Trustees, said that the recovery plan put in place by
the Trustees in 2008 to address a deficit of £8.9 million had been
effective in reducing it to £3 million in 2011, and to £600,000 at
the end of 2012, despite the value of liabilities' increasing,
owing to a fall in bank yields. The "riskiness" of the Pension Fund
had also been reduced, with less money now in equities and real
assets and more in bond yields and real cash.
But he warned the Synod that, if the cost of future
benefits continued to rise, it would reach a level that might be
neither affordable nor sustainable. The amount paid by
congregations had increased each year for ten years.
Some clergy detected flaws in the thinking where the
retirement age was concerned. The Revd Professor David
Atkinson (Aberdeen & Orkney) said that living longer
did not mean being functional for a longer period of time. "You are
asking people to work longer when they are ageing in particular
ways," he said. He suggested a determining medical assessment at
65. The Revd David McCarthy (Glasgow &
Galloway) wondered how ageing clergy were to be supported, and
Christine McIntosh (Argyll & The Isles)
questioned whether it was good for the Church to have "so many old
people at the top".
But the Very Revd Dr Francis Bridger
(Brechin) did not see the issue as one of affordability: this was a
mission issue, where "we may be doing ourselves down" if clergy
were to be seen by those in their congregations, or on the fringes
of the Church, to be privileging themselves. The motion, presented
byDavid Palmer, convener of the Standing Committee, was
HUNGER had been coming closer to home,the
Revd Val Nellist, convener of the Overseas
Committee, told the Synod. Globally, the issue is to be discussed
at a hunger summit, instigated by David Cameron before the
forthcoming G8 summit.
Two Malawian smallholders, Susan Ntende and Howard
Msukwa, who export rice to Scotland, were present to tell the
meeting how much they appreciated the Scottish government's
continuing support of development aid for their country.
A motion that letters be sent commending Mr Cameron
and the Scottish government for their actions was carried
unanimously. The Overseas Committee was also invited to consider
ways in which SEC could develop its relationships with those
overseas receiving church grants "beyond simply the relationship
A MOTION affirming the Christian values inherent in
the concept of the living wage, and strongly encouraging all SEC
bodies and congregations to pay at least this figure, was carried
with three abstentions.
Average private-sector earnings in Scotland were
£23,999, the Very Revd Ian Barcroft, convener
of the Church in Society committee, told the Synod. In one
deprived area near Glasgow city centre, Calton, the average male
life-expectancy was 54, compared with a nearby area where the
figure was 82 - a gap of 28 years. In 2012, there were 500,000
people in Scotland earning less than the living wage, which he
described as "a rallying cry against low pay". The living wage
ensured a basic but acceptable standard of living. The allure was
its simplicity, he said. Few disagreed. Alan
McLeod believed that, even though it had only 35,000
members, "our Church should be a conscience of the state." He urged
it to engage with all political parties.
There were warnings from the floor that firms forced
to pay the living wage might cut jobs or reduce hours, and that
young workers might be disadvantaged. But Graeme
Hely (Glasgow & Galloway) thought the wording too
weak. SEC bodies and congregations should not just be "strongly
encouraged" to pay. It should be demanded of them.
The Revd Professor Annalu Waller
presented three motions on behalf of the Church For All group.
First was the desire that the Scottish Episcopal Church "should
enable people with different abilities, and at different stages in
their faith journey, to experience an environment where all people
can worship and participate in the life of the Church, and feel
themselves to be fully part of the Body of Christ."
The Synod also noted the Charter for the
Safety of People within Churches of the Anglican Communion, and
approved consideration of its application within SEC, and affirmed
the continued funding of the Diaconate Working
The Revd Dr Harriet Harris visited
the Synod to announce publication of the ninth Grosvenor Essay,The
Art of Dying Well, which recognised the long tradition in
Christianity of teaching people to die well. It was not a position
statement on any matter, but was intended to bring comfort, and to
challenge the Church to carry out "the teaching and practice that
will help us to do that".
The Synod agreed to a quota figure of
£658,837 for 2014. The figure represents a three-per-cent increase.
Edinburgh has the highest rise, with a 6.6-per-cent increase from
£234,176 in 2013 to £249,765 in 2014.