The Church of Scotland is planning substantial financial investment in new forms of church life. At its upcoming General Assembly, the Kirk's Ministries Council will outline plans to devote £1.5 million over five years to 'emerging ministries'.
The Assembly is due to take place from 15-21 May 2008. The fund, which will be available from 2009, will asist Presbyteries and others through a grant making process specifically for new models of ministry and the establishing of new approaches to church.
The Emerging Ministries Fund will be supporting projects that engage with people outside inherited formal structures and at grassroots. In many cases this may mean less of a dependence on buildings and getting people to 'come to church' and a greater emphasis on taking church to the people.
The Assembly will hear that the Emerging Ministries Fund intends to support work in three areas: the promotion of new church growth alongside or beyond the existing congregation; establishing church from the ground up and exploring what that means for the given demographic and cultural context; and experimenting with new approaches to ministry.
The intention is to spread the funding across a range of approaches to maximise the learning experience for the Church at large.
The processing of applications and general management of the fund will be carried out by the Council’s Emerging Ministries Task Group, who are dedicated to working cooperatively with the other Funds of the Church.
Emerging Ministries Fund grants would be made at a maximum level of £30 thousand per annum for a three year period. In addition, Presbyteries and congregations will be expected to demonstrate that they have explored potential sources of matched funding – either private or public sector, or from ecumenical partners – although there is recognition that such assistance cannot always be secured.
Ministries Council staff say they will be able to offer advice and support to applicant organisations at all stages of the process.
The overall aim is to take forward the Church of Scotland's 'church without walls' approach and grow new expressions of Christian commitment, worship and discipleship in a changing culture.