MacDonald Inchyra Hotel in Falkirk was the venue for the 11th Triennial Session of the Scottish Mission on Sunday 10 October. Up to 60 delegates from across the Mission convened in the hotel conference room, with a further three tuned in via teleconference. The main business of the morning session was to receive the administrative reports from the offices of President, Secretariat and Treasury, together with other reports presented by the departmental sponsors.
The chair of the Session, Scottish Mission President Pastor Paul Tompkins opened the proceedings, welcoming the delegation whilst British Union Conference (BUC) Associate Executive Secretary and Mission Executive Secretary, Pastor Jacques Venter, dealt with the formal seating of delegates.
The President's Report was a video overview of the various activities, programmes and initiatives carried out during the past triennium. The President's Report reflected the teamwork and collaboration achieved amongst the few ministers within the Mission. Pastor Tompkins paid tribute to the members of the Mission, for their faithfulness and resilience during the pandemic. Yet despite the challenges the church in Scotland saw greater community engagement and outreach, membership growth and financial stability during perhaps the most uncertain period of time in its history. Ending his report Tompkins expressed appreciation to God for his 40 years of service to the Church and would now end his ministry as he now takes up retirement but remaining in Scotland. "It's been a pleasure and a privilege to serve in pastoral ministry," said Tompkins. "Thirty years of which have been spent in youth ministry and 10 years in churches…would I do it again? Most certainly!"
Following his report, BUC President Pastor Ian Sweeney expressed appreciation for his years of service together with his wife Dawn, whom together have served in various entities across the Church organisation within the BUC and the Trans-European Division.
The Executive Secretary's Report presented by Pastor Jacques Venter, included a statistical analysis of the membership make-up of the church in Scotland. Despite the challenges of a pandemic and church closure for many months, there were still 44 baptised during the three years with 51 members transferred into the Mission. Together with an additional 12 through profession of faith and 12 through administrative adjustments the Mission saw continued steady growth in membership.
Some of the questions posed for the Executive Secretary's Report included the need for statistics to see which members joining the Church are Scottish indigenous so that an effective strategic plan can be developed to address this need. Jacques explained that whilst this is something to work toward, presently there are some challenges in reporting upon baptism and lack of detailed response on the forms that can skew the data. Other questions included information of the percentage of young people joining the Church, and whether the statistic reveal those baptised are from outside the Church or children of members. All questions were addressed accordingly with efforts being put in place to capture essential data to help drive missional strategy.
Earl Ramharacksingh (BUC Treasurer) presented the Treasurer's Report. He began by commending the faithfulness of the Scottish Mission members that whilst most entities within the BUC struggled financially, the Scottish Mission actually showed tithe increase. Tithe over the triennium yielded in a 4% increase (1.34 million). Earl also commended the Mission for providing £10,000 during the heart of lockdown to the BUC to help support its operating costs. During the lockdown none of the pastors in the Mission needed to be furloughed.
Some of the questions for the treasurer included the concern of those transferring membership into the Mission but not reflected in tithe return. Earl expressed the desire that all members gaining from ministerial and church support should be willing to support the local church financially. There were also questions on what is the Church spending on evangelism and outreach? What support is there for those seeking their own church building?
Nominating Committee Report
The nominating committee which had met prior to the Session presented their report. The following is a partial report of departmental sponsors:
Children's Ministries – Mrs Ifeoma Victor-Igwe and Mrs Cedrene Botha
Personal Ministries/Church Growth – Refered to the incoming executive committee
Communications – Referred to the incoming executive committee
Health and Community Services – Mrs Beavon Sanderson (Community Lead) and Dr Claudette Comerasamy (Health Lead)
Family Ministries – Pastors Rory and Ivana Mendez
Men's Ministries – Mr Charles Lethbridge
Pathfinder Ministries – Pastor Njabulo Ndlovu and Mrs Mthokozisi Ndlovu
Women's Ministry – Mrs Margaret Mukisa
Youth and Teens – Pastor Claudiu Popescu
The report was voted and accepted.
President - Ex officio
Executive Secretary - Ex officio
Treasurer - Ex officio
Mrs Beverley Anderson - Edinburgh
Mr Benjamin Bakina - Glasgow
Mr Feston Kazuwa - Musselburgh
Dr Yona Matemba - Irvine
Pastor Ivana Mendez - Glasgow
Mrs Sikhangezile Ndlovu - Glasgow
Mrs Carole Peacock - Crieff
Mr Manuel Vieira - Aberdeen
Mrs Genevieve Zabate - Dunfermline
The names were voted and accepted.
Sponsors' Departmental Reports
With the Mission being relatively small, departmental responsibilities are covered by full-time pastors or church members.
A summary of each sponsor's report can be found within the President's Report here.
Strategic Plans for new Triennium (written by Pastor Jimmy Botha)
The final business session of the Scottish Mission Session dealt with the strategic plan for the next triennium presented by Pastor Tompkins. This plan outlined the vision and mission of the Scottish Mission and encapsulated important values that formulate and underscore the work to be carried out over the next three years. The sentiments of Empathise, Enable and Engage, made up the basis for thought in the strategic plan.
Empathise. It is important to have an understanding of others when we help them. It is also important for leadership to have a strong understanding of those they work with in church. The church needs to know and understand the thinking and way of life, of those who live within the communities the church endeavours to serve.
Enable. The leadership of the church and the church itself, ultimately needs to provide for those it serves, with tools and opportunity, to live better lives and coming closer to where Christ would like them to be. Pastors, sponsors, members of the executive committee and church leaders in local churches need to be enabled and equipped to make disciples, everywhere.
Engage. The church is in the business of serving. The church has a mandate to bring the good news of the gospel to all peoples. This includes everyone in our communities. In different areas, different church communities will do this in different ways. But that they engage, is important. Engaging can happen, when churches have empathy for those communities, and have been enabled to go ahead.
In response to the presentation of the strategic plan document, a number of positive points were raised and with many 'amens' the floor also responded. A need for a prayer sponsor was raised, and the constituency voted to allow the executive committee, at its first meeting, make work of installing a prayer sponsor for the Scottish Mission a matter of priority.
The meeting came to a close, and many comments were made as to the positive and engaging nature of the Session that the Scottish Mission experienced in October, 2021.