This past week the Proposed Presbytery Plan for Aberdeen Presbytery, a plan to cover the next decade, was circulated to presbyters and ministers. It is now publicly available and you can download a copy of it here.
When I was ordained as a minister it was pretty much assumed it would be as the sole minister of a parish church. Rapidly I realised that this had to change and we had to start working towards a system of team ministry if we were to have the capacity to enable the church to develop and grow into new areas of ministry and mission. I have been very encouraged by the proposals contained in this plan which would allow for team ministries to develop across the city, and, should we choose to capture the vision, enable all church members to find new opportunities to serve our Lord Jesus.
The document attached is in two parts. The main body of the document is the proposed presbytery plan which splits the presbytery into a number of areas. The area that affects us at Ferryhill also includes South Holburn, Garthdee and Ruthrieston West, the parishes that form the area north of the river Dee within the city. The second part of the document, the appendix, is a separate report on the complete building stock in the city (churches and halls, not manses) the results of which have helped to shape the proposals in the plan.
The plan is a far-reaching, ambitious and challenging one that deals head-on with many of the issues we have been talking about ourselves as a Kirk Session in Ferryhill over the last few years. It has many exciting new proposals such as new church buildings in Cove, Countesswells, Stoneywood/Dyce, Mastrick, and near the University, along with the invitation to create new forms of church in other areas such as Garthdee. In order to allow these exciting proposals to happen it also means having to let go of many older buildings that are now no longer fit for purpose. In other areas it will mean seeing current buildings such as our own and South Holburn develop further.
As you read the presbytery plan you will realise that the big shift that will allow much of this to take place is from the traditional model of “one minister to one parish” to a model of team ministry in larger parishes. This is akin to the model adapted for pastoral care in Ferryhill many years ago. For our own situation at Ferryhill this would mean we become part of a new congregation that covers a parish consisting of the whole area from Garthdee to Ferryhill, retaining the buildings at South Holburn and Ferryhill, and with a team of two ministers and one full time mission development staff post. Currently this area is served by 3 ministers and a part time mission development staff worker based in Garthdee.
What that would mean if the proposed plan is agreed is that we would be working towards becoming a single congregation with one Kirk Session, albeit using two suites of buildings and with an additional focus on the Garthdee area, including, of course, Robert Gordon University.
We have known that change was coming. You will see in other parts of the city that the proposals in those areas are even more far-reaching than for our own area. Every part of the city is being asked to think more creatively and collaboratively about the future.
You will no doubt have lots of questions. Please do them via email or in conversation either with Lorna Glen or with me. There is going to be ample opportunity for discussion before the proposed plan will come to presbytery for approval in early 2020.