One of the strengths of our church is the location, although some members mention that “the location is in a nice area, but inconvenient for those who live down the line”.
We have to remember that the location of the Church abroad is not to suit the congregation, like the parish churches in Scotland, but to be in the centre of a greater area. Our church is the Parish Church of Portugal. Rev Graham McGeoch (2009/2013) “thanked the Kirk Session for deciding to move the manse from Cascais back into Lisbon, (Rua de Buenos Aires) giving the Church a stronger presence in the Capital City of Portugal”.
FINANCE & BUILDINGS
Although at the first meeting of the Kirk Session it was agreed to investigate the possibility of a Stewardship Campaign; I think and I agree with what you say about buildings. “Comments about the earning power of the manse should clearly be taken into account in all our deliberations”.
With reference to the selling of the manse, this is a more complicated matter than people would think:
· because of the legal and physical separation of the buildings,
· the definite loss of a good income,
· the terrible state of the real-estate market in Portugal, which will take years to return to normal
· the impossibility of the Church of Scotland to support the expense of a church abroad, given the tremendous financial problems in Scotland itself.
INTERNAL & EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION
Often meetings do not achieve a dialogue with the congregation even when groups or committees find a way to “advertise” what they propose to do and what they have done. I agree with all the external communication you mention, but it seems to me that there will be no success without leadership.
I believe some of the comments made at the Congregational Meeting “who had probably kept their thoughts to themselves for a long time”, identified the Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in our congregation mainly due to lack of information.
It is part of the vacancy procedures to call a congregational meeting to encourage a SWOT session and to discuss all those things, which some of us have done many times in the past.
So, allow me to advise:
a) make immediate plans for renting the Manse, assuming the legal issues are in order
b) it is in our interest, in the first instance, to explore the wishes of the Iraq embassy to be a tenant, for a short period, for a special price This as a gesture of good neighbourliness without requiring huge alterations to the building inside or out, except the urgent matters.
If such agreement can be made:
If not, we will have to immediately look for a long term tenant and start looking for a suitable and convenient place for the minister to live in Lisbon, near the church.
If presented, I believe this, and other scenarios, can be discussed and appreciated by the Kirk Session.