Sat. Oct 24th, 2020
How many, like the Church of Scotland, are facing a huge shortfall due to the pandemic?
(Photo: Church of Scotland)Dr. Martin Fair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s 2020 General Assembly

Many are asking how many churches around the world are facing financial ruin or massive difficulties due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic like the Church of Scotland.

Presbyteries in the Church of Scotland are being asked to predict how many ministries can be afforded.

The fears arise as the Church of Scotland’s annual income could fall by an estimated 20 million pounds (27 million U.S. dollars) this year due to the novel coronavirus.

The People must not underestimate the challenges facing the Church of Scotland, its Assembly Trustees have warned.

Britain’s Press Association quoted a Church of Scotland spokesman saying, “The Covid-19 health crisis has affected income streams for all charities and the Church of Scotland is no exception.

“With church buildings closed over the last six months and activities curtailed, there is the potential for reductions in contributions from our congregations as well as in our trading activities and investment income, which we rely on to carry out our vital work.

“To respond to the financial challenge facing us, a range of mitigating actions have been taken to maintain the income levels as far as possible, reduce our costs and accelerate our plans for structural reform.”

The presbyterian church has a membership of nearly 326,000, which is less than 6 percent of Scotland’s population. However, in the 2014 census, 27.8 percent of Scots said they belonged to the Church of Scotland.

The church trustees said that failing to take reform action is a “recipe for a slow decline, ” and realistic presbytery planning would determine the church’s shape and health over the next five to 10 years.

The warning comes in a report due for consideration during the Church of Scotland’s first remote General Assembly, which will be streamed live on Oct. 2-3.

“To respond to the financial challenge facing us, a range of mitigating actions have been taken to maintain the income levels as far as possible, reduce our costs and accelerate our plans for structural reform,” the church spokesman said.

Commissioners will take part in the proceedings online, aware of the fears that the church’s total annual income, which is around 105 million pounds (135 million U.S. dolars), could potentially fall by an estimated 20 million pounds this year due to COVID-19.

Many parts of England and Scotland are under strict lockdown, and the church has permission to use the building under a business exemption. England and Scotland have different laws relating to coronavirus restrictions.

Apart from the Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr. Martin Fair, the only people in the hall will be a skeleton technical crew, and commissioners – mainly ministers, elders, and deacons – will be able to engage with discussions and vote online.

The Assembly Trustees have called for “realistic predictions” on the number of ministries needed and can be afforded to structure the local Church for mission and growth.

The Faith Impact Forum is urging the Church of Scotland to continue its long-term support of Christian Aid in addressing the development and humanitarian needs of some of the poorest people across the world.

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