The big debate, flowing right the way through Mission Council, centered on the need to cut the expenditure side of the 2013 central budget of the United Reformed Church by £1,000,000, in response to falling income from Ministry and Mission giving by local churches.
Mission Council representatives were asked to consider a paper put together by the Moderators’ Think Tank (a small group including both moderators of General Assembly, John Ellis, the URC’s treasurer, and Alan Small, the Chair of the URC Trust). This paper was based on detailed submissions, outlining possible cuts and their consequences, which were prepared by all the Assembly committees of the United Reformed Church as instructed by the previous meeting of Mission Council in November 2011.
The paper was considered in committee-based groups and synod-based groups, before going back to the floor of Mission Council.
Pressures on the agenda created less time for small-group discussions and whole-Council debate than had been originally planned. However, a resolution did emerge, and was passed on the final afternoon. The resolution proposed cuts of between £40,000 and £200,000, totalling £600,000, relative to the 2012 budgets of the following six committees – Education and Learning; Ministries; Mission; Assembly Arrangements; Youth and Children’s Work; and Communications and Editorial – and it is this resolution that Mission Council will be recommending to General Assembly in July.