The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s presbyteries will be guaranteed funding for a minimum of two full-time ministry positions.
The funding will be based on an approved stipend to contribute to their capacity to fully undertake their work.
They will also share an annual fund of at least $400,000 for additional resourcing. A distribution model for the new fund will be developed in consultation with the presbyteries.
The fund will build on the strengths and principles learned from the Rural Ministry Leadership Fund, taking into account equity and need.
A process to review the arrangements for the fund will be developed by the Standing Committee with a report to be considered by the 2020 Synod.
Previously presbyteries were funded under a mandated model of three ministers. The mandated model was concluded, by consensus, last night.
They also received funding from the Presbytery Pool Fund, for all eight presbyteries, and the Rural IOMF for the five rural presbyteries including Tasmania.
The Facilitation Group’s original proposal had sought to reduce the number of ministers from three to two.
Many members expressed concern that the funding proposals were inadequate for rural presbyteries to be able to effectively undertake their work.
The group undertook further discussions before bringing the revised proposal this morning.
Board of Mission and Resourcing Chair Rev Graeme Harrison said presbyteries had received a ‘huge’ injection of funding when their number was reduced from 14 to eight.
Mr Harrison said while funding had been reduced by the Church in other areas presbytery funding had actually increased.
“We have been talking in a context of anxiety and not enough resourcing,” he said.
“(But) compared with other Synods there is an abundance of funding (in Vic/Tas) so why are we still anxious?”
Presbyteries have been requested to enter into a process of conversation and discernment to develop a ministry team model appropriate to its activities.
They have also been encouraged to explore creative opportunities for managing meetings and gatherings and to develop sources of income beyond what is being provided through their Synod budget.
Today’s revised proposal was approved by consensus.