Joint future plan 2016 onwards



As two congregations in a linked charge, one of the crucial questions we need to ask is,

“AS WE CONTINUE TO WORK EVER CLOSER TOGETHER ARE WE LOOKING TO REMAIN AS A LINKAGE OR ARE WE  MOVING ACTIVELY AND POSITIVELY TOWARDS UNION IN THE NEAR FUTURE?”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The question of continuing linkage or eventual union was asked twice at the second joint meeting of the sessions.  The result was the same both times. There was no clear mandate for immediate union but a majority view that is where we are heading. On other occasions when members of both congregations have openly expressed their thoughts, the move towards union has also been preferred.

Of those who wish to remain in linkage no-one has, as yet, openly voiced any reasons why we should do so.   A primary concern appears at this stage to be the retention of buildings rather than a more appropriate focus on Mission i.e. outreach and service.  But there may be other issues of identity, tradition, fear of losing control. Before we can move forward to union any fears and anxieties about what union would actually mean need to be raised and addressed.

The issue of continued linkage or union should therefore be openly discussed on a regular basis both at joint meetings of the two Sessions but also with the wider membership.

A positive relationship between the two congregations should be developed further through

  • continuing to emphasis and to deepen the joint nature of our worship
  • supporting events of all kinds in all 3 locations 
  • establishing joint social committee  
  • joint stewardship campaign
  • considering how we might provide pastoral care together not only to members but the wider community

WORSHIP: Worship is the core of who we are, what we believe and what we do.


-          Our constant aim is for even more welcoming and inclusive worship.

-          The need for variety and creativity is evident. There is no one perfect format. What appeals to some in the way of content, format and formality does not always work for others.     

-          The informality, creative fun and fellowship of the Fifth Sunday services at St Bridget’s appears to be successful and should be continued and developed.

-          A key aim is to face and overcome the challenge of some members in both congregations who are unwilling to move out of their personal comfort zones i.e. participating in anything beyond ‘what works for them’ and where it works.    


-          Providing improved multi-media facilities at all locations in the next year or so.

-          Opening up the worship space at the South through the removal of pews etc. for more creative worship and wider community use.

-          Improved disabled entry/exit provision at both locations for both congregations and worship leadership.


-          Source more organists and other musicians. This impacts on general worship but also the greater use of joint choir for anthems, introits, introducing new praise items.


-          In the past couple of years we have tried various ways in providing worship, teaching and fellowship for all our children and young families. We have now decided to try and bring South Kids Praise and Dunnottar Sunday School together. Greater fellowship for them and with the wider congregation.

-          Recruit additional leaders for children and young people. These should be able to work comfortably  in all worship locations. 


-          Affirm the current contribution of our strong, gifted and dedicated joint worship team.

-          Develop their skills and expertise even further.


-          Encourage more people from the wider congregation to actively participate in worship: readings, prayers, reflections, music, drama

Wondrous possibilities J

EVANGELISM: Evangelism is the telling of the good news … the good news of the love and mercy of God … the good news revealed in Scripture, in the person Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.


-          We acknowledge that most people find it very difficult to share their personal faith stories both within the membership and beyond so we should try to encourage more people to ‘speak up’ through great involvement in worship and ‘sharing stories’ through magazine contributions.


-          There is a need to create more integrated ‘welcome’ teams.  Should not be limited to elders and former board members.  Friendly, smiling and helpful people of all ages and from both memberships regardless of the location.  

-          Make sure all our buildings more open and welcoming, comfortable and warm.  

-          Make worship more accessible to all including the ‘lapsed’ and the totally ‘non-churched’ through careful use of language/terminology – do not assume people know what we do and why we do it


-          encourage more direct personal invitations 

-          plan more social groups and events for church membership and wider community.

-          encourage more people to join organisations such as bowling, whist, craft group etc



-          Raise our public profile through all means: noticeboards, websites, and other media such as local radio and newspapers

-          acts of random kindness e.g. distribution of Easter eggs


-          Recognise and support the work that is already being done in our schools and elsewhere with our young people through chaplaincies such as ATC. 

-          Encourage others from the membership and the wider community to get involved.


-          Continue to make all our resources [people and property] available for community use

-          Continue and develop our involvement in wider interest issues such as fair trading, conservation, climate change etc.



-          There are not enough people to adequately cover regular and meaningful visitation in all districts in both congregations but especially Dunnottar the larger and more rural parish

-          We aim to seek out, nurture and ordain additional district and pastoral elders

-          We also will also work together to provide a solution: possibilities include amalgamation or pastoral teams


On-going training/support of elders/visitors needed for:

-          general visiting

-          specialist areas such as visitation of young families, people in crisis, the dying and the bereaved

-          encouragement to attend courses and workshops run outside of the parish    


-          we recognise very heavy work load in the whole area  which is currently borne by the ordained clergy  

-          more people willing and able to lead funerals/care for the bereaved are needed – these may be local people such as elders or a designated person supported by the local churches or the Presbytery


-          affirm the work [visitation and worship services] that is already being done in many homes in the area not only by the Minister but a faithful and skilled group of members

-          encourage more people to get actively involved 

-          strive to maintain regular contact with members when they move into residential care in the town and wider area [important for families as well as members themselves]  




-          affirm those who provide these ministries which already provide much appreciated pastoral care

-          encourage elders/visitors/members to communicate more the needs of others

-          encourage more people to get involved in carrying out these ministries  

  • develop follow up contact with baptised children and their families 



-          enquirers classes/courses  - currently on demand which is very low – consider whether a fixed program such a Christianity Explored would be more inspiring and motivating 


-          Bible Appreciation Group – affirm existing group and encourage more to join 

-          home groups – consider a new group – different time from BAG – evening maybe? 

-          Advent / Lent courses – consider reintroduction – short series – less of a time commitment 

-          Promote reading of Life &Work [hard copy and on line]and other magazines /books

-          continue to encourage worship preparation through listing themes and texts in magazines

-          encourage more worship participation


-          small but strong and faithful joint prayer group - encourage more to get involved

-          restore pre-service prayer time with choir at Dunnottar - leading by example                                                                                 

-          encourage greater use of prayer cards

-          encourage more elders and visitors to share good and bad news bearing in mind issues of privacy and confidentiality 

  • reminder that everything we do however practical or mundane needs to be bound up in prayer


-          Encourage more home communions with elder involvement

-          Provide worship recordings for those no longer able to come to church -- increase circulation at Dunnottar and introduce at South 

-          Promote elderly / housebound harvest service beyond small core of existing attendees

-          introduce a similar service at another key time of year? 


Set up Joint Social Committee 

Organise events such as concerts and suppers for a variety of groups and purposes

-          among the eldership

-          within membership e.g. joint districts

-          wider community    


EXTERNAL:  To raise general awareness of who we are and what we are doing and to promote particular events 

-          explore idea of setting up Facebook page or use of other social media

-          develop Website[s]

-          increase distribution of magazine[s] beyond membership

-          advertise in press beyond Leader articles

-          create new ideas for noticeboards inside and out

INTERNAL: Improve internal communication  - pyramid or centric models suggested  – with information moving up from the bottom as much as down from the top - recognition that responsibility for communicating lies with us all …  it is not enough that we wait to be informed we also need to ask and to share what we know …   seek ways of making this possible  


The halls [St Bridget’s and South] are especially well used for social, sporting and fundraising clubs and events for the congregation and community.

St Bridget’s lends itself to more flexible and informal worship.

Dunnottar and South churches in their current set up are more suitable for traditional/formal services:

-          both require update of A-V equipment

-          Dunnottar requires major work on roof and walls

-          internally Dunnottar is in very good condition but would benefit from widening the chancel area by the removal of some side pews

-          South requires major internal decoration work in both church and hall

-          no surveys/costings yet on any South external work required [roof, walls, windows etc]     

-          potential for major improvements in South to make a more welcoming and flexible worship space with additional wider community use  [see appendix A]

Dunnottar Session currently has a rolling five-year property plan which includes upkeep of the joint-manse. [see appendix B]

South property maintenance currently on hold beyond immediate need until the funds of sale of the previous South manse are released.

It is acknowledged that all three locations serve the congregation and the wider community in various ways. However these various ways will need to be realistically assessed and prioritised in the light of our calling and purpose as the Church here in this place.

 Few people are currently willing to even consider that the best course of action for the wider mission of the Church in this area, and especially in light of our continued general over-spending year by year, might be that one or even two of the present buildings should close.  This needs to be openly and honestly debated in future Session and congregational meetings.




HUMAN RESOURCES: also see word file “Joint local review 2016 organisation “

The expectation of a ministerial vacancy by the end of 2018 was recognised. So too was the need to work towards making this a lively, positive and attractive charge for a new ministry.

Acknowledgement that too few people were currently undertaking too many roles:  

-          aim to ordain more elders and appoint more office bearers

-          offer more training and support to encourage and motivate existing elders 

-          encourage more people from wider membership to get more involved  

Acknowledgement that currently some roles are duplicated in the two congregations:

  • with this in mind I have put together an extensive list of roles and responsibilities showing where they are currently shared and where there is duplication and perhaps more scope for working together. Please see file “Joint local review 2016 organisation “



Each congregation is responsible for maintaining its own financial records and presenting its own accounts.  [see appendix C for Dunnottar and appendix D for South]

Currently however many joint financial responsibilities are met by Dunnottar and its Treasurer. In time the South ‘pay their share’.  

Unfortunately for both congregations currently general expenditure exceeds income.

-          Dunnottar has been assisted in recent times by two substantial legacies.

-          the South has the financial fabric cushion of the South Manse sale proceeds but general reserves are very low. 


Joint financial stewardship campaign:

-          increased giving by members would go to the funds of the associated church

-          any shared fundraising through special events would be divided equally  


Such a campaign would need to openly and clearly explain why we need more money

-          give facts and figures  

-          provide focus/targets/specific examples such as buying new chairs to replace the pews [South] or screen/projectors/lap-top etc for Dunnottar 

-          would require follow up of any increased giving and how it would be allocated 


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