Former Moderator says Church of Scotland is facing crisis of leadership
The former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has warned of the need to attract more people to the ministry.
The Very Reverend Albert Bogle handed over the Moderatorial baton to his successor the Reverend Lorna Hood on the first day of the General Assembly on Saturday.
In his retiral address, Mr Bogle said the Church would need to recruit 650 ministers in the next 15 years to address the shortage.
However, he said there was a challenge in attracting more men and women to come forward and offer themselves for ministry.
Those already in ministry are also suffering the strain of taking on more work to cope with the reorganisation of parishes, he continued.
"This year in partnership with the Ministries Council I have met with ministers to engage with some of the issues that they felt to be important," he said.
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"I found a tremendous group of committed people who were working very hard in spite of facing very difficult and uncertain futures.
"We soon became aware of the challenges facing the Church at a local level. If we are going to continue to do the church in the same way with the same number of ministers we have today, we need to recruit 650 ministers in the next 15-years."
Mr Bogle also called for a reduction in the length of time it takes to train people for ministry, and a discussion around increasing funding for ministry.
"Perhaps there is a need to set up a bursary support scheme to encourage members in our congregations to come forward for ministry," he said.
"We also need to consider the ways we train our ministers so that it does not require six-and-a-half years from calling to ordinations. We have much to do and I believe that we need to hear the wake-up call."