H) Pastoral Reference and Welfare Committee
1a The Assembly Pastoral Reference Committee will consider the cases of URC ministers which are referred to it on account of some perceived pastoral need by Mission Council, district councils or synods or their committees or moderators of synods, and when the continuation of a minister’s service: (i) within an existing pastoral charge or (ii) within the URC is in question.
1b The Committee will seek to enable the minister’s service within the URC to be continued if that is seen to be appropriate, and to this end may consider financial support for a course of retraining or therapy or counselling.
1c The Committee may initiate discussion about alternative forms of service for a minister, within or outside the URC, and may seek help (practical , financial, professional) in consultation with the minister to make this possible.
1d The Committee may authorise the MoM Sub-Committee to provide stipend or part stipend and may authorise the Secretary for Finance to pay other necessary expenses (including accommodation costs) to a minister not in pastoral charge, for a specific period. Such period will not exceed six months in the first instance but may be renewed by the Pastoral Reference Committee. The MoM Sub-Committee (or such other body as shall in future carry out the functions of the MoM sub-committee) or the Secretary for Finance will accept this authority for payment.
1e In each case the Committee will make clear to the minister concerned the period for which payments will be made and whether or not it may be extended.
2 Limitation on powers :
2a The Committee does not have authority to delete the name of a minister from the Roll of Ministers nor to take any other disciplinary steps against him/her. The Committee does not have to be consulted about and does not have the authority over the process of ending the appointment of a minister in pastoral charge, which process is a matter for minister, church meeting and district council.
2b The Committee may not be involved with, and must withdraw from, any ongoing discussions, counselling or other direct pastoral involvement with any case in which the disciplinary procedures of the Church are being applied against a minister. Nevertheless the Committee may authorise any financial payments allowed under its terms of reference (see 1d).
It is evident that the work of the Pastoral Reference Committee will be confidential and pastoral. Nevertheless it will need to keep a record of its meetings. The Committee’s conclusions should be recorded, given to the person concerned and shared with others directly involved in the matter who need to know the outcome. It would be inappropriate for the Committee as a body, or individual members of it, to divulge any additional information about ministers or churches concerned.
A former Moderator of General Assembly who shall be Convener; the General Secretary; two lay people; one minister in pastoral charge; one Provincial Moderator; the Honorary Treasurer; the Deputy General Secretary who will act as Secretary
5a The minister whose case is being considered by the Committee may request a meeting with the Committee in person if he or she so wishes. Alternatively the Committee may invite the minister to meet some or all of its members. In either case the minister may be accompanied by a friend if he or she so wishes.
5b The Committee shall have discretion to invite other persons involved in a case to meet it.
6 Relationship to Structure
The Committee will report to the Assembly each year. However the report will only deal with general matters and the Committee will not report on, nor may it be questioned on, individual cases.
General Assembly 2007