Linkage Commission

Convener: Rev Kerr Graham
Secretary: The Deputy Clerk of the General Assembly

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.

Convener Rev Ker Graham 79 Blaney Road, Altnamackin, Newry, BT35 0EA
Tel: (028) 3087 8369
Secretary  Mr Kenneth Belshaw 6 Apple Vale, Portadown, Craigavon, BT63 5YG
Chairman Very Rev Dr Michael Barry 4 Alexander Park, Carrickfergus, BT38 7LL
Tel: (028) 9336 4720

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.

Allowances : The Commission annually sets the recommended level of Travel and other Allowance payable to Ministers. In some cases, where local resources are not enough to meet Ministerial Allowances the Commission awards grants on application for Allowances to reach 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 receives requests from vacant congregations to let their manse, and 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 Allowances 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:

Panel Role Contact Position Contact Details
Business 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 David Allen, Deputy Clerk Secretary Assembly Buildings, Belfast,  BT1 6DW
Tel: (028) 9041 7204

Additional Pastoral Personnel and Auxiliary Ministry Additional Pastoral Personnel; Extra-parochial Work; Auxiliary Ministry Rev Brian McManus Convener 53 Rosses Lane, Ballymena, BT42 2SB
Tel: (028) 2565 8987

Church Architecture and Manses Church Architecture (advice and permission); Manses Mr Brian Knox ARIBA Co-Convener 122 Warren Road, Donaghadee, BT23 0PQ
Tel: (028) 9188 3360 / 07855 372213

Reviews, Allowances and Fees Stipend Reviews; Ministerial Allowances; Pulpit Supply Fee Rev Dr Stephen Williamson Convener

3 Magherabuoy Drive, Portrush, BT56 8GP tel: (028) 7082 2427