The full report of the business discussed and decided at last week’s Mission Council is now available and includes information on the discussion and decisions regarding the future of the Windermere Centre, one of the United Reformed Church’s Resource Centers for Learning.
Grace Pengelly, Secretary for Church and Society at the United Reformed Church, and a member of the Joint Public Issues team, writes about the removal of children from the ‘Jungle’ in Calais.
Children are curious creatures, they like to know what’s going on – and what the ‘grown ups’ are talking about. It’s often easy forget how perceptive children are, how much they take in when we’ve forgotten that they’re still in the room.
Paper A1: Plans for GA2018 and beyond
Paper A1 is an update paper, there is no resolution attached but several members of Mission Council wanted clarity on both the decision made and future plans.
Specific questions included: would the 2018 and subsequent Assemblies include a Children’s Assembly?; would the 2018 venue be fully accessible? (commenting that the 2016 venue, the Southport Convention Centre, had not been) and was there a possibility of Assembly being permanently located in one, fully accessible, venue? The point was also made that the Assembly arrangements committee seems to exist to tell the Church what Assembly it’s having, rather than respond to requests to deliver an Assembly that will clearly benefit the life of the denomination.
The future of the Windermere Centre, one of the United Reformed Church’s four Resource Centres for Learning was discussed during four separate sessions of Mission Council. The discussion was wide-ranging and careful, and included the Centre’s financial position. Mission Council considered three options:
- To pursue a partnership with an ecumenical hospitality provider;
- To continue to operate on the current model and;
- To close the Centre.
Paper G1 The 2017 budget was presented by John Ellis, treasurer, who explained that the 2017 budget was very similar to the 2016 budget with the main difference being a decrease in the total number of stipends paid.
Mr Ellis also highlighted that the costs of the past case review are uncertain but that the Church was committed to pay what was needed. If it becomes clear in the next six months that the budgeted figure is far too small, then it will be revised and presented to the May 2017 meeting of Mission Council. The budget resolution was passed by consensus.
Mr Ellis continued, presenting an overview of future budget projections and highlighting uncertainties. He pointed to the 2019 budget as a particular challenge, not least because of the potential consequences on the Ministers’ pension fund of volatile financial markets following the Brexit referendum. The ultimate impact of this was unknowable as yet, but Mr Ellis said a larger pension fund deficit could make the overall budget deficit unsustainable and would require further action. He concluded by restating that these projections were presented for overview and were not binding – the detail of the 2018 budget will start to be worked up next Spring.