Water of Leith Cluster Group - Report to Presbytery Planning team October 2021



Water Of Leith (WoL) CLUSTER GROUP



  1. We have recognised and discussed the position that Presbytery finds itself in, that the number of ministry posts will reduce from 78.2 to 48.5 by 2025 and we have considered the potential impact on the three Churches in this cluster group.
  2. The WoL Cluster Group covers an area including urban, suburban and rural environments.  Each Church within the Group serves a unique and identifiable community albeit there are similarities across the three areas.
  3. At the present time each Church has its own minister and supporting structure to serve its community.
  4. Looking ahead we have considered the position where the number of ministers across the three churches might be reduced, whether to two or one. On the information available to us at present we consider that arrangements can be developed, with suitable notice and transition support, to cover those circumstances as they might arise.
  5. Ministers - We envisage that in the event of reduction to two ministers then
    1. those two would become ministers of the Cluster Group and not of any individual Church.[1] This situation should be made clear to those ministers from the outset.
    2. Further work would need to be carried out to see how best to use the two ministers within the Cluster Group depending on their individual strengths etc. It is unlikely that the arrangements would be the same in any two cases, as they will depend on the facts and circumstances of individual cases.
    3. It would also be necessary to consider what additional support might be required by e.g. lay people and to explore associated issues including subsequent training needs.
    4. The aim in all of this would be to build a ministry team to serve these three distinct communities.
  6. Three congregations - While the model for future working remains to be designed, we would envisage each congregation continuing to serve its community with each one having its own Church building, Sunday Worship, Kirk Session and supporting structure of committees. We believe that such an arrangement is both feasible and sustainable.
  7. Buildings – There is considerable demand both from within congregations and within communities for access to and use of Church halls and buildings. In the three WoL communities those facilities are in effect the major, and the more affordable and ordinarily accessible public facilities.  As a result, all the halls across the three locations are well utilised and it is not envisaged that there would be scope for disposals.

Equally we recognise that it must be the responsibility of congregations to maximise the use of buildings, and maximise income from them, within the context of the Five Marks of Mission.

We further recognise that if there were only two ministers then consideration would need to be given to the manse requirements across the Cluster Group going forward.

  1. Developing the Cluster Group - Over time it is likely that a further coming together of some of the supporting structures across the Group would take place as the congregations developed a closer working relationship. While we would for the most part envisage this happening in an organic way, we also think it would be appropriate to encourage the development of that closer working relationship by creating structures and lines of communication across and between the congregations.
  2. Current activities – In the context of developing the Cluster Group we have also explored the activities currently pursued by each of the Churches and mapped them to the 5 Marks of Mission. It is fair to say that there is a high degree of similarity in the activities and it is very encouraging that so many do already map onto the 5 Marks of Mission.
  3. Development of activity links - As each Church serves a separate community, we would not envisage any merging of activities in the short term, nor do we think it would be useful to seek to expedite any such process. However, opportunities are likely to emerge organically such as digital technology as the congregations get to know each other better and it becomes obvious that certain activities would benefit from coming together across the Churches. We will begin to interact more between the three churches and focus on building the links between us.
  4. West Lothian

We have looked at the possibility of developing direct links within West Lothian but as there are no direct public transport links we do not regard this as being feasible at this time. We will however be prepared to consider informal relationships with West Lothian.



October 2021




[1] Such an arrangement would be likely to be typical across Scotland if reductions in numbers as envisaged by the General Assembly were to be achieved. It will be necessary for the General Assembly to make arrangements in order to facilitate such methods of working by e.g., amending the Parish Ministry Act 2018.

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