Vacancy Report

The Session met the Vacancy Advisory Committee (by Zoom) on 14 April.
Permission to call a Minister has been granted. Permission to call lasts for 2 years.
All presbyteries - and the Church of Scotland as a whole - are under huge pressure
to reform and restructure which means that permission to call is a time-limited status.
Covid 19 is eating into our time window.

As Intimated on 16 February, the Session (with the support of the Board support) intend to simplify
St Laurence‘s formal structure, by transitioning from the Model Constitution
(of a Board and a Session) to the Unitary format. This is a key move in preparing
St Laurence for recruitment. Presbytery and 121 George Street are nervous about
voting a constitutional change through without a physical meeting of the congregation,
so that is on hold, pending resumption of physical meetings.

The Session must consider whether the will of the congregation might be to depart from the
traditional doctrine of the Church in relation to same-sex unions.

The Session must draft (and have agreed by the VAC) a Parish Profile that describes the parish,
and will attract a new Minister. Ideally, the drafting should be preceded by a discussion
among you all, as the congregation, of how you see St Laurence; what it is, where it is going,
and where it wants to be in x years time. Covid 19 and lockdown also restrict this ability
to reach out to you. We must elect a Nominating Committee of 9 people who will take on the role
of actively recruiting (and scrutinising applications for) a new Minister. We need a far better
engagement of the whole congregation (remotely, if we cannot meet physically) to identify and
elect the right mix of people to represent the whole church in this vital task. Serving on the
NomCom is not a job restricted to office holders.

A new Electoral Register must be drawn up. How exactly to do that virtually is under review,
but the Session is pulling together and consolidating the varying databases of active (and not-so-active)
members, as a precursor to this step. We will also try in this process to tidy up any loose ends
of GDPR compliance, as well as ensure that the Register is both accurate and up-to-date.

A Minister needs a Manse. Our manse, however, may not meet current standards. Presbytery
must inspect and decide after lockdown. The possibility that a new manse will be required is quite real.
That is for Presbytery and the General Trustees, who own it.Inspection is on hold.
Plans to recruit a Locum may resume after lockdown. The new normal of Sunday worship may
however look and feel very different. The Session is coming to terms with its greater responsibility
during vacancy, and adapting to the circumstances imposed by Covid 19. I hope and pray that you will
support them in this work; that you will all be willing to assist, even to lead, in new initiatives.

May the Lord bless you and keep you!
Peter Taylor