Church of Scotland backs plans to cut ministers

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General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Image caption,
The plans were approved after a debate at the General Assembly

The Church of Scotland has backed plans to cut the number of ministers in a bid to tackle a £5.7m funding gap.

Its General Assembly approved the plans after being warned the institution would run out of money within a decade if the situation was not addressed.

A cap will be put on readmissions into the church as well as admissions from other denominations and overseas.

But Rev Graham Finch warned it would be hard to ensure future ministries were "fairly spread" throughout Scotland.

Rev Finch, the convener of the Ministries Council, told the assembly in Edinburgh: "We are paying for more ministries than we can afford."

He pointed out that between 2007 and 2009, stipends and salaries increased by more than 10% - but the Parish Ministries Fund went up by just 1.8%.

'Confusing us'

"It cannot continue," he added.

"Our calculations are that by 2018, our reserves will be exhausted. We need to balance our budget.

"And the only sensible long-term way of doing that is to reduce the number of posts for which we pay.

"To do anything other would be so irresponsible that people would start confusing us with banks and football teams."

A 10% cut in the number of ministries is required to reach the required level of 1,000 and help the church balance its books.

But Rev Finch warned that a "much more difficult challenge" would be to ensure that the 1,000 ministries were "fairly spread" throughout the country.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: "Everyone seemed to accept that the situation we are in is unsustainable and this was the sensible option for tacking the problem.

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