Presbytery proposals raise more questions than answers

Presbytery proposals raise more questions than answers

Synod 2017 turned its attention again to proposed changes to the way that presbyteries operate, are funded and interact with synod as a facilitation group reported on the response of working groups to questions around these issues.

Facilitation team leader Rev David Fotheringham said that on the question of whether oversight was the primary role of presbyteries the response of working groups had been broadly positive.

The groups had also been warm but with some reservations on sharing more tasks with synod.

Tasks that groups nominated as ones that potentially could be more taken on by synod staff included compliance, OH&S, regulations, HR, Keeping Children Safe requirements, property, accounting and treasury duties among others.

On the proposal to have a core and project model of funding the working groups’ reaction had been mostly cold, the main reservations being the lack of detail on how project funding would be decided and by whom.

The proposal that the presbytery chairperson position be paid or a placement had raised a number of questions about how much power a person would have and whether it would be filled by either lay or ordained people.

Mr Fotheringham said the proposal to have a synod-presbytery interfaith had been warmly received with some groups noting that a similar model was working well in Queensland.

After the facilitation team’s report, Presbytery Transition Team convenor Rev Paul Stephens told the meeting that the proposals need more work but the intent was to “create the space where it might happen”.

Contributions from the floor reflected concerns over the details of various proposals.

There were also questions whether synod taking on extra presbytery work would mean cuts elsewhere and over whether a placement for a presbytery chairperson position would be determined by synod or the presbytery.

The proposals will be further discussed at a second working group on Monday morning.