The ACTS Advent Reflections for 2017 have been written by ALTERnativity.
What is Action of Churches Together in Scotland?
Formed in 1990 as Scotland's national ecumenical instrument, Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS) brings together nine denominations in Scotland who share a desire for:
- Greater oneness between churches, as Jesus prayed, "that they all may be one" (John 17.21).
- A growth of understanding and common life between churches.
- Unified action in proclaiming and responding to the gospel in the whole of life.In its work ACTS seeks to enable the Scottish churches in their common life. It encourages and resources encounters between them in which each participant learns from the other, where difference is explored and respected and where division is healed.
Who we are: Member Churches
There are nine member churches of ACTS. They are listed below:
Each of our member churches is also a member of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Five of our member churches are present in the three nations of Scotland, England and Wales and therefore bring to ACTS not only the perspective of being churches in Scotland but also in the wider United Kingdom.
ACTS welcomes opportunities to work with churches which are not in membership of the organisation.
Who we are: ACTS Officebearers
The principal officebearer of ACTS is the Convener of the Trustee Body and Members' Meeting. This post is held for two years, in turn, by a member of: the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, Scottish Episcopal Church and a representative elected by the other member churches. The current Convener is Mgr Philip Kerr, from the Roman Catholic Church, who took up post in June 2017.
In addition to the Convener there is a Vice Convener, who also serves for a two year period. Currently the Vice Convener is Rev Dr Grant Barclay from the Church of Scotland.
Mr. Francis Aitken is the Convener of ACTS Finance Committee and ACTS Treasurer. This post is held for three years.
Who we are: ACTS Staff
The ACTS staff work out of the office which is situated in Stirling. Contact details are given here,
Rev Matthew Ross took up the post of General Secretary of ACTS in April 2014. Overseeing the work of ACTS, he is responsible with his colleagues for implementing the ecumenical vision of the Member Churches.
Rev Ian Boa is the Assistant General Secretary.
Mrs Shona Paterson is a Programme Officer.
Mrs Joan Pennycook is the Administrative Assistant.
How we work: Being Churches Together
Core to all our activity in ACTS is the principle of being Churches Together.
This is summarised in the Lund Principle adopted by the churches at the third world conference on Faith and Order (August 1952), which states that:
'the churches should act together in all matters....except those in which deep difference of conviction compel them to act separately'.
Local, national and international ecumenical bodies therefore are not intended to become 'superchurches' but places where churches from the wide diversity of Christian experience, meet, engage, reflect and share in common action. This model of 'being churches together', is found throughout all ACTS structures.
How we work: ACTS Members' Meeting
The ACTS Member Churches meet three times a year at the Members' Meeting. One of these meetings incorporates the Annual General Meeting of the Company.
Convener: Mgr Philip Kerr
Vice-Convener: Rev Dr Grant Barclay
Each Member Church has one Voting Representative at the Meeting. The number of delegates from each Member Church is allocated according to the membership of each Member Church.
The Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Church each have four representatives at the Members' Meeting, the Scottish Episcopal Church has three and the other Members have two representatives each.
The Trustees of ACTS also attend the Members' Meeting and the Convener of the Trustee body is also Convener of the Members' Meeting.
The Convenership is held for two years and rotates between the Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Scottish Episcopal Church and other member churches.
The purpose of this meeting is
- To be a meeting place for the Members so that they may engage with the furtherance of God's mission and to work towards realising the unity of the Church Universal, which form the charitable purposes of ACTS.
- To provide an opportunity for the Members to worship together.
- To provide a mechanism for inter-church counsel, education and action.
- To provide an opportunity for Full Members to promote, participate in, implement and engage with actions, projects, programmes and initiatives in the fulfilment of ACTS charitable purposes.
- To engage with the Trustees in discussion leading to the setting of ACTS strategy and policy.
- To receive reports on the implementation of ACTS strategy and policy.
- To receive regular reports from the Trustees concerning finance, personnel, governance and day to day management of the company.
- To engage with wider ecumenical fora in Britain and Ireland, Europe and the World.
How we work: ACTS Trustee Body
There are currently seven trustees, one each from the Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic Church and Scottish Episcopal Church (the appointing members) and three others representing the other six Member Churches of ACTS (the electing members).
There is also a Treasurer and the trustee body may co-opt a further three people to be Trustee body if desired. The Convener and Vice Convenership of the Trustee body are selected by the appointing and electing members on a rotational basis.
How we work: ACTS Policies
In consultation with the Members, the ACTS Trustees have formulated a number of policies for the organisation. These are reviewed on a regular basis. Copies of the policies are available to download below. For any further enquiries concerning the policies please contact the General Secretary.
Please find below the ACTS Policies as agreed by the ACTS Trustees at their May 2014 meeting:
How we work: Programme & Partner Groups
These are working groups formed for a specified purpose.