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EDITIONS
Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Kirk in 'financial crisis'
The general assembly is meeting in Edinburgh
The general assembly is meeting in Edinburgh
The Church of Scotland is in the midst of an ever deepening financial crisis which threatens its existence, the Kirk's general assembly has been warned.

Reverend James Gibson, convener of the Kirk's board of national mission warned that immediate action must be taken to reverse its financial problems.

He said that his department had spent 7m in the past year - almost a fifth of its capital reserves.

Mr Gibson, who is a minister at Bothwell Church in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, said: "The seriousness of this situation must be clear to all.

Rev James Gibson
Rev James Gibson: "Bad news"

"The need for reform and renewal to begin is now - not five or seven years from now - but now.

"To deny such urgency, and to fail in such a response will mean that congregations presently surviving by their fingertips may not exist at all."

And Rev Gibson's report warned that the financial situation, combined with falling membership, could lead to the Church of Scotland in its present form, ceasing to exist within 50 years.

Mr Gibson denied that publishing the Kirk's financial woes was an own goal, saying: "No one likes bad news. But how long can we continue sticking our head in the sand?"

Pay rises

He urged building a stronger and more intimate relationship with congregations to regain the Kirk's sense of mission and shake off its "narcissism".

The general assembly was also due to debate proposals for pay rises of up to 15% for Kirk ministers.

The 800-strong body, meeting in Edinburgh, is considering the introduction of salary scales for ministers that could add 1m to the Kirk's wage bill.

According to the Kirk's board of ministry, the scales are being proposed because many ministers with families are finding it hard to make ends meet.

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Raymond Buchanan reports
"The days of slavish devotion to Sunday service are long since past."
See also:

29 May 02 | Scotland
28 May 02 | Scotland
27 May 02 | Scotland
26 May 02 | Scotland
25 May 02 | Scotland
25 May 02 | Scotland
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