The Lausanne congregation met on the same day.
Both congregations agreed to the linkage.
The agreement between the two congregations was approved by the International Presbytery at a special meeting on February 23 and now awaits only the formal approval of the Presbytery Mission Plan Implementation Group in Scotland.
Why are we doing this?
In Genesis 12, we read that Abram (Abraham) goes down to Egypt because there is a famine in the land of Canaan, and the famine is severe.
Today, too, there is a famine: a severe shortage of ordained ministers in the Church of Scotland.
We are one of 12 congregations in the International Presbytery. 10 of these congregations are in Europe (outside the UK), the other two in Bermuda and Sri Lanka. The current presbytery plan allows for no more than five full-time Church of Scotland ministers.
This requires some fancy footwork!
One option is for a congregation to call a minister from outside the Church of Scotland – from one of our many sister churches in the World Communion of Reformed Churches – and this is reflected in the draft basis of linking.
The Scots Kirk Lausanne has been vacant since its minister left in June last year.
The proposal is for a deferred linking between our two congregations. Deferred, because it will not take effect until our own minister retires.
For further explanation, please see this note from Derek Lawson, the presbytery clerk and convener of the presbytery mission plan committee.
Once we and Lausanne agree to link, and the presbytery and the Church of Scotland concur, two things will happen:
- We will elect a vacancy committee with members from both congregations. It may seek a new minister for Lausanne drawn either from the Church of Scotland or from one of the other WCRC churches. (In the latter case, that minister may serve for up to six years but at that point must either transfer into the Church of Scotland or leave.) When we in turn become vacant, the same procedure will be followed.
- When our minister retires, the new minister in Lausanne will become the minister of the linked charge; and our new minister in Geneva will be the associate minister of the linked charge.
Linking is not union
Geneva will remain Geneva and Lausanne, Lausanne. We will each have our own kirk session (the committee of elders that oversees the congregation). We will still have separate finances, if only because we are in two different Swiss cantons.
The linking can mean as little or as much as our two congregations want,. This may well change over time.
One of the two ministers in Geneva and Lausanne will be the minister of the linked charge; the other, an associate. The minister of the linked charge may chair both of our kirk sessions but may delegate that role to the associate in the congregation where the associate is based. The two kirk sessions will meet together at least once a year.
Otherwise, we can choose to be ships passing in the night.
Or we can choose to grow closer together over the years. This would be to live “ecumenically” with our sister congregation in Lausanne, doing together all those things that are better done in common.
Our two kirk sessions discussed the proposed linkage carefully for several years and agreed in recommending that our two congregations accept the draft basis of deferred linking.
Last updated: February 24 2024