Newly qualified ministers may be given a lucrative bonus to serve in remote rural parishes as their first charge, under plans from a Church of Scotland council.
The Kirk’s Ministries Council has put forward proposals for probationer ministers considering such a call to have their starting stipend increased by c.£3,000, reflecting the practice of other professions such as teaching.
It is hoped this will help tackle the growing number of vacancies in isolated regions, with manse families less likely to settle outwith the central belt.
Ministries Council convener Reverend Graham Finch explained: “Sometimes ministers are put off applying to rural congregations because it can be difficult for spouses to find appropriate work in the area.
“Although there is currently a small allowance given to ministers relocating to island parishes, we felt it was necessary to have something for far-flung congregations on the mainland too.
“Any probationer minister taking up a charge under this incentive would be offered a stipend starting at point five on the Stipend Scale, £26,377 instead of £23,139.
“Those appointed on this basis would be expected to fulfil a minimum of five years in the charge and would revert to the appropriate point in terms of years of service if leaving before such a period was completed in office.
“The Council continues to encourage all ministers to consider prayerfully a sense of call to parishes in these areas.”
Areas that would qualify for the scheme are Caithness, Sutherland, Lochaber, Lochcarron and Skye, Lewis, Uist, Orkney, Shetland and some churches in Argyll.
Charges so designated would be advertised indicating this and an updated list would be circulated regularly to Probationers and those in training for the ministry.