******VERY IMPORTANT NEWS - PLEASE READ - Draft Basis of Reviewable Charge - CONGREGATIONAL MEETING SUNDAY 10 SEPTEMBER *********
Letter from Rev Hanneke Janse van Vuren, Interim Moderator – Boghall Parish Church
22 August 2023
With this letter you find Boghall Parish Church’s DRAFT Basis of Reviewable Charge. As you will be aware, for a number of months we’ve been waiting for the Presbytery
Mission Plan for Edinburgh and West Lothian to be approved, and finally, at the Presbytery Meeting of 25 April 2023, this Mission Plan was approved. (Please see entry into the Presbytery Mission Plan as an Addendum to this letter).
According to the now approved plan, Boghall has the right to call a minister, for which we are truly grateful. However, as part of the way that the Church of Scotland will now look to the future, it was agreed by the General Assembly of 2022 that one tool that Presbyteries can use to call ministers will be to make use of Reviewable Charges, to make sure that Mission is at the forefront of all we now do. In the case of Bathgate, the Presbytery has indeed opted to use Reviewable Charges for an initial term of 5 Years. There were also a few points that were crucial to be included in the Basis of Reviewable Charge Documents – especially the Five Marks of Mission and a key focus on five purposes of the church, i.e. worship, service, discipleship, fellowship and evangelism that will be reviewedafter 5 years.
The Draft Basis of Reviewable Charge Document as pertaining to Boghall specifically has now been negotiated over the past few months between the Session Clerks,
the Kirk Session and the Deployment Group, the General Trustees and the Principal Clerk and is attached for you to look over. Normally, in the Church of Scotland when changes of this type are proposed and decided, after a Kirk Session has agreed to the change, the members of the congregation are called to attend a congregational meeting at which a vote is taken. This meeting and vote is being organised for Sunday 10 September directly following the morning service at 11.30am – and to be eligible to vote, you’ll need to be present in person. The result of the vote will then be communicated to Presbytery, who will meet on Tuesday 12 September at 7.30pm at Palmerston Place, and the congregation will also be cited to attend if you wish.
In the spirit of transparency and engagement, please have a careful look at the proposed draft Basis of Reviewable Charge for Boghall. At the meeting and vote on Sunday 10 September, you will get a chance to ask any questions or raise any concerns before the vote takes place. If, in the meantime, you wish to ask any questions, please speak to your elders, or Robert and Murray or to me.
May Ephesians 3:14-21 be the prayer on our lips and in our hearts and may you be assured of my continuing prayers for you all!
“A Prayer for the Ephesians
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Hanneke Janse van Vuren (Interim Moderator)
ADDENDUM 1 - Presbytery Mission Plan
Presbytery Mission Plan for Bathgate (extracted from the Pres Edi and WL Mission Plan – agreed on 25 April 2023 – p.45)
3. Bathgate High, Bathgate St. John’s and Boghall will work together and be served by 2FTMWS. All three congregations are currently vacant and it is envisioned that there will be a Union between Bathgate High and Bathgate St. John’s and a Parish Grouping formed with Boghall. Bathgate High and Bathgate St. John’s have worked together over the years and there has been cooperation with Boghall. They are aware of the changing demographics and the loss of sense of community in the town. There are particular challenges associated with the new Wester Inch development with a younger and more fluid population. The congregations are encouraged to work with each other and with
their ecumenical partners to address issues linked to poverty and social injustice. They should use their experience to continue to develop relevant forms of worship, especially using IT. The churches should continue to promote the involvement of the congregation in planning and leading worship and producing on-line resources. Strong ties have developed with local charities and support offered to groups within the community who are in need. This model should be adopted within the Parish grouping as all move together to reach out in the most appropriate way to all communities in the town, including the new housing that is being developed in the area at Wester Inch. Conversations regarding the most effective staffing are ongoing.
Buildings: Bathgate Boghall is in good condition and not only offers an excellent example of missional work but serves a distinct community. It is therefore proposed that it be designated ‘A’. Bathgate High and Bathgate St. John’s are both located within Bathgate and thus some rationalisation would be an appropriate use of resources. Given recent
conversations and the recognition of the difficulty of this decision, it is proposed that both buildings be designated ‘B’ and a decision reached by 31 December 2023. The ‘B’ designated building should be released by 31 December 2024.
ADDENDUM 2 - BASIS OF REVIEWABLE CHARGE
By decision of the Presbytery of Edinburgh and West Lothian, permission is granted to the congregation of Boghall Parish Church of Scotland, Bathgate (SC001881), to call a minister on a Basis of Reviewable Charge in terms of Act VIII 2021, section 9 (1), and that on the following conditions:
1) The Presbytery shall review the appointment five years from the date of induction of the minister.
2) At the review, the Presbytery shall consider with the Kirk Session:
a) Whether the life of the congregation exhibits the five Marks of Mission, i.e. i) To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; ii) To teach, baptise and nurture new believers; iii) To respond to human need by loving service; iv) To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; and v) To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
b) Whether the life of the congregation exhibits the five purposes of the church, i.e. worship, service, discipleship, fellowship and evangelism and whether these are
in a healthy balance;
c) The effectiveness of contributions to, and building up of, the proposed Parish Grouping with Bathgate Parish Church, as per the Presbytery Mission Plan;
d) The contribution of an appropriate percentage of time by the Minister to the mission of the proposed Parish Grouping;
e) The success of an intergenerational approach to mission with particular emphasis on areas of new housing in the town;
f) The effectiveness of working with local partners in addressing issues aligned with poverty, health (physical, mental and spiritual) and social justice in the area;
g) The extent to which a leadership core has been established and developed to enable the resourcing of all aspects of church life;
h) Such other matters as may be relevant by that time.
3) Following such review, the Presbytery shall take a further decision on the future arrangements for ministry to the congregation and parish of Boghall Parish Church of Scotland, Bathgate, recognising that one of the options available to it is the termination of the tenure of the charge on giving the minister six months’ notice in writing.
The minister shall be free to seek to demit or to be translated as in the ordinary case of any minister inducted to a charge, provided that, if this Reviewable Charge is his
or her first charge, the Presbytery hereby agree that these conditions constitute exceptional circumstances in terms of Section 4 of Act VIII 2003, and will accordingly issue the necessary Certificate if he or she seeks to be translated within five years.