News & Events
2012 Assembly - Thursday evening summary
May 24, 2012
Vice-chairman Reverend Iain MacAskill presented the report of the International Missions Board. He noted that the IMB failed to reach its own fundraising targets last year, and that the Board has to raise an increasing percentage of its own budget. Mr MacAskill acknowledged the impending cutback of five per cent this year and 10 per cent in 2013 would have an effect but that there were still potential new opportunities and mission fields – suggesting Europe as a possibility.
The suggestion of a near 50 per cent budget cut for IMB in the Board of Trustees’ discussion session yesterday, was described by Professor John McIntosh as a “terrible prospect”. Professor McIntosh suggested a “curious connection” between the spiritual state of the Church and its interest in international mission. He said that a friend told him the Church of Scotland only has seven missionaries now, and that the Free Church still displays “a marvellously disproportionate concern for people without the Gospel” in the mission field.
Reverend Iain Macdonald said that there may be too many projects, and if the Board wishes to enthuse congregations about the vision for mission overseas it may be more effective to have less. This sentiment was agreed by Mr MacAskill, before the report was approved by the Assembly and guest speakers addressed commissioners.
Reverend Dr Manuel Reano reported on the work in Colombia. He said he continued to pray that Scotland will see similar blessing as was currently being experienced in Latin America. Dr Reano said informal education was proving successful and that training, lectures, workshops, retreats and conferences were attracting hundreds of men. He pleaded with the Assembly to continue to pray for the work, adding that God was hearing our prayers and answering them. He concluded by thanking members for letters, cards and greetings – he said it was difficult to reply because of mail costs and the reliability of the post – but that he and others were most grateful.
Reverend Dr Donnie Smith said he was proud that the Lima Evangelical Seminary is now almost financially independent. The current Free Church contribution makes up eight per cent of their budget – an incredible change from the 95 per cent when Dr Smith took up his post as Rector. Acknowledging that theological education is not easy to sell, he praised his department of “institutional image”, which comes up with imaginative fundraising ideas. These include banquets, football games and even weddings. Because of the school’s independent status, Dr Smith said they had to “capture” every student that enrols. Roughly 40-45 per cent of their income now comes from course fees, and a similar proportion comes from the “institutional image” initiatives. That said, Dr Smith noted that over two-thirds of pastors in Peru have no formal theological education or trained leadership, and that “theological training is not on the agenda”. He said pastors were more suited to arranging meetings, but rejoiced that the seminary is now central to all pastoral programmes in the country and has a major role to play. He illustrated this by saying there was more theological training “in the Assembly hall than in 20 denominations in Peru”. Dr Smith also thanked the WFM group for their faithfulness in writing cards over the course of the year.
Kirsty Boyd from Women for Mission was the next speaker, and received rapturous applause from the Assembly after revealing the organisation had raised £37,000 for “Energising Lakhnadon” – surpassing their £33,000 target. Next year they are raising money for Project Africa, and the chief goal is to get new computers and improve toilet facilities at the Dumisani Theological Institute in South Africa. Mrs Boyd also said the Original Recipes book has been reprinted, having raised £98,000 since 1994. She quipped it was “an ideal engagement present” or “for new students leaving home”. Mrs Boyd also said the theme for the coming year is “Be Still”.
After the singing of Psalm 117, Mike Moore from Christian Witness to Israel addressed the Assembly. He thanked the children of the Free Church for their fundraising efforts to help the Children’s Bible in Israel. Mr Moore said it was the “most important project we have ever done” and reported that the Old Testament was almost complete. He also spoke of planned outreach work during the 2012 Olympics.
The Assembly then applauded the efforts of Reverend Norman Reid, the Irishman having retired from Dumisani last year to go back to his homeland.
Reverend John Ross rounded off the speeches, by speaking of God’s blessing during his three and a half years at the institute, and thanked the wider Church for their support and prayers for him and his wife Elizabeth as they served there.
Mrs Daphne Douglas was also thanked for her 20 years of service doing the prayer notes, with prayer being a key theme running through all of the presentations this evening. Mrs Christine Mackenzie presented her with flowers and a gift voucher.
The Moderator personally thanked all of the speakers, and the evening concluded with the singing of Psalm 72 from verse 17 to the end.