Linkage Commission acts on behalf of the General Assembly in allocating ordained ministry and related financial resources to congregations.
Membership is drawn from presbyteries all over Ireland, together with representatives of allied Councils and Committees. It usually meets in the Board Room, Assembly Buildings, on the fourth Tuesday of September, October, November, January, February, March, May and the third Tuesday of June.
The formal rules concerning the Linkage Commission are found in the Code, Paragraphs 128 and 273.
Its work can be broken down as follows:
Vacant Congregations (that is, those without a Minister): the Commission receives deputations from congregations, reviews their circumstances, and agrees an appropriate initial stipend and ministerial expenses. It ensures that definite decisions have been taken concerning what work, if any, is needed on the Manse.
It then issues 'Leave to Call' which means that the congregation can proceed to look for a new Minister. Where it is appropriate for two or more smaller congregations to share a Minister the Commission will agree terms of linkage and ensure that income from any redundant Manses is used in accordance with the General Assembly's guidelines.
Where the workload is light, a congregation may be given leave to call under the Part-Time Ministry Scheme. Where factors in the long-term future of a congregation are uncertain, Leave to Call under Reviewable Tenure may be given: this means that after a period (perhaps five or seven years) the whole situation will be reviewed. Sometimes the Commission will meet informally with representatives of congregations to discuss the future provision of ministry or the Commission sends a deputation to an area to gather more information or to discuss particular issues.
Associate Ministers: the Commission receives deputations from congregations seeking to call an Associate Minister, decides whether there is appropriate work for an Associate Minister to do, and agrees Salary, Expenses and Housing Allowance and issues Leave to Call.
Auxiliary Ministers: the Commission receives requests from congregations seeking leave to call an Auxiliary Minister, decides whether the proposals merit the creation of an Auxiliary Ministry post and are appropriate and decides whether to grant Leave to Call.
Additional Pastoral Personnel: the Commission receives requests from congregations for the creation or renewal of pastoral positions additional to ministers and deaconesses, such as youth workers and family workers and decides whether to grant approval.
Extra-Parochial Work: The Commission approves applications from Ministers for permission to undertake paid work outside the congregation.
Special Arrangements: The Commission makes special arrangements for grants from Central Ministry Fund in situations where ministers resign or retire for health or other special reasons.
Expenses: The Commission annually sets the recommended level of Travel and other Expenses payable to Ministers. In some cases local resources are not enough to reimburse the Minister for expenses incurred in the performance of his or her duties. The Commission awards grants on application to bring expenses paid up to an appropriate level.
Fees: The Commission annually reports to the General Assembly the level of the Pulpit Supply Fee.
Church Architecture: The Commission produces Guidelines on new Manses and Manses in a vacancy; it considers approval for plans for new congregational property, and changes to or demolition of existing property.
Manses: The Commission agrees arrangements with congregations for the use of income from the sale or letting of Manses and of land held for the benefit of the Minister.
Reviews: The General Assembly requires that Stipend and Expenses be reviewed seven full years after the installation of a Minister. The Commission carries out these reviews. In addition it provides comment for Presbyterian when Visitations, Consultations and reviews of resources are carried out in congregations. Where there is short-term uncertainty over the financial resources of a congregation given leave to Call, a shorter-term review (often three years) may be included in the terms.
The Commission has four in-house Committees and it is appropriate to contact the relevant Secretary or Convener concerning any particular item of business in the first instance:
||This Panel makes recommendations to the Commission; undertakes detailed work on behalf of the Commission; advises the Convener and the Conveners of other Panels.
||Rev. Jim Stothers, Deputy Clerk
||Assembly Buildings, Belfast, BT1 6DW
Tel: (028) 9041 7204 / 07525 872561
|Additional Pastoral Personnel and Auxiliary Ministry
||Additional Pastoral Personnel; Extra-parochial Work; Auxiliary Ministry
||Rev. Colin Gamble
||680 Antrim Road, Belfast, BT15 5GP
Tel: (028) 9077 9648 / 07936 299086
|Church Architecture and Manses
||Church Architecture (advice and permission); Manses
||Mr Brian Knox ARIBA
||122 Warren Road, Donaghadee, BT23 0PQ
Tel: (028) 9188 3360 / 07855 372213
|Reviews, Expenses and Fees
||Stipend Reviews; Ministerial Expenses; Pulpit Supply Fee
Mr James Livingstone
||"Eden", 56 Largy Road, Crumlin BT29 4RW
Tel: (028) 9445 3345 / 07713 810141