General Assembly has agreed that, until further notice, the costs of supporting stipendiary ministry should be brought into line with the trend in membership numbers across the church.
The move departs from the previous policy of reducing the target number of stipendiary ministers in a given year by the same percentage as the reduction in membership (which in practice has meant a reduction in the target year by year of three per cent). The change in policy reflects increases in the costs of ministry due to stipend increases and the greater contributions now required to maintain the Ministers’ Pension Fund – which have opened a gap between the largest element of Assembly’s budget income (M&M giving) and spending to support stipendiary ministers.
Assembly acknowledged the faithful members of local churches who give regularly and, through their local church’s giving to the Ministry and Mission Fund (which typically provides over 90% of budget income) pay for ministers’ stipends, Assembly programmes and the many other costs of being a denomination.
As church membership numbers continue to decline however, there is more pressure upon individual members of the church to give more – as very many do. Assembly members therefore resolved to engage more closely with the church’s policy on tithing – which is that members be encouraged to give at least five per cent of their income after tax to the church.
This afternoon, General Assembly warmly welcomed three interfaith guests (pictured from left to right): Quari Asim, the Leeds Imam, recently honoured by the Queen in her birthday honours list; Daryoush Mazloum, a member of the Baha’i faith and Mark Cosens of the York interfaith forum – representing the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Quari Asim thanked General Assembly for the invitation and said: “I come with a message of peace and harmony in this world. The Qur'an teachings are that you cannot be a true believer unless you love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.”