Church House refurbishment

imgres-1The frustration of some Presbyterian Mutual Society  savers surfaced again this week with the strong suggestion that the Presbyterian Church should abandon the internal refurbishment of its Church House headquarters in Belfast and re-direct the money to a fund which would alleviate the plight of long-suffering PMS savers. The frustration is totally understandable, but the call for the re-allocation of funds is ill-conceived.

It’s worth remembering the following points:

  • the decision not to sell Church House, but to re-furbish it, pre-dates the PMS crisis. Having taken that decision, the denomination was committed to following through with the refurbishment.
  • once funds are raised for a particular project within the church, they cannot be re-directed or re-allocated. Those who give to the refurbishment of Church House may not want their money to be used for any other cause, however worthy it may be.
  • the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, when asked to make a contribution to a hardship fund for PMS savers, responded positively and generously.
  • the amount of money being raised for the refurbishment of Church House would not resolve the PMS crisis on its own. It would only make sense to raise a contribution of such amounts in the context of a larger, more comprehensive package that would rescue all PMS savers.

In spite of all the frustration and anxiety being experienced, it seems to me that PMS savers need to stay focused on the goal which we have consistently aimed for, namely the restitution of 100p in the ¬£ to every PMS saver. It is easy to take cheap shots at the denomination. We need to remember that as savers, whether individuals or congregations, we are all in this together, and that our best strategy is to stay “on message” and press for a solution that will deliver the only just and fair outcome.

The Prime Minister’s pledge provides the context in which we expect HM Government to act and to bring this sad and tragic saga to a good and satisfactory conclusion.

17 Replies to “Church House refurbishment”

  1. Couldn’t agree more Stafford, reopening this aspect of the discussion, i.e. the church should give its’ money, will only weaken the discussions with Givernment and Treasury

  2. What a load of rubbish.
    Did the church respond positively when the ministers where asked to donate their bonus ?

  3. Dear Stafford,
    I concur wholeheartedly with your blog comments dated 19/8/2010 and at the same time thank you for your every effort made on behalf of all the savers in the PMS even those who keep sniping at the PCI. Such negative comments will never help. In fact when that sort of thing reaches the media it can only be detrimental to every positive effort secured thus far. It is imperative, therefore, that our focus remains wholly on HM Government and in the hopeful pledges offered by Mr Cameron and other parliamentarians in their pre-election comments. We must not be seen to be at sixes and sevens among ourselves but rather to be standing firm, as Presbyterians have done down through the years, standing firm as one, in this seemingly endless nightmare.

  4. The proposal that ministers donate their bonuses was made at the Assembly (by a minister) but it was never voted on because it was the view of the whole Assembly, and particularly of the elders, that the burden should be shared by the whole church since many ministers were themselves victims of the PMS collapse. So, yes, the church did respond positively, and affirmed that as a church, ministers and members together, we are all in this together.

  5. Dear Stafford,
    Congratulations on another timely contribution to PMS debate. Thanks for the excellent leadership you are giving. John Dixon

  6. I agree that those who gave money for PIC refurb may not wish this money to be used elsewhere. However, have you ever asked them? Don’t you think those that gave the money may be suffering hardship as a PMS saver as well? Whatever is said, PCI should admit its responsible role in encouraging PMS savers to invest, no matter if it thinks it is linked or not. I do agree that anything less than 100p back in the pound is not acceptable. But let me say this…just how long can PMS savers wait? There is nothing but rhetoric coming from both politicians and PCI, maybe its time PMS savers adopted a different approach! I for one am fed up listening to nothing!

  7. “It is easy to take cheap shots at the denomination” .. and it is easy for
    the “church” to take a cheap shot with language like this at its members
    who faithfully subscribe to the “church” and did to an organisation that
    the “church” helped to establish, including appointing Board members to
    represent the various interests/boards of the “Church”.

  8. Stafford, I am a bit concerned that you have been made the fall guy for the PMS situation. Surely it is time, the current Moderator, and a number of other ministers, who usually have a lot to say about other matters, lifted their heads above the parapet, and help shoulder the burden.

  9. So it will be coming up on 2 years since this farce happened.
    What exactly has the church done to help its members ?
    Have the board been questioned over what happened, have they apologised.

    Should some ministers be practising what they preach by putting their faith and trust in God rather than material salaries ? They could be proactive and give their bonus, some of their salary into a pot to help people who are in dire straits. Most people that I speak to would not have been in this mess if thy had not listened to their ministers and church to begin with.

  10. Again, thanks to you, Stafford. The call for re-allocation of funds specified for the refurbishment of Church House, the subject of news items a few days ago, is indeed ill-conceived.

  11. @Martin Luther

    Should some ministers be practising what they preach by putting their faith and trust in God rather than material salaries?

    Yes.

    Should all Christians(including some PMS savers) be putting their faith and trust in that same God to “give us this day our daily bread”?

    Yes.

    This PMS is obviously a difficult emotive issue for many people but as you watch TV pictures of natural disasters from places like Pakistan or Haiti, or read about how women in sub-Saharan Africa have to walk for over 3 miles every day more than once to simply get clean water is it not time we where thankful for what we do have?

    I want to graceful but want to ask how many of us have to walk for miles to get clean water everyday, or have watched our homes and crops flooded and destroyed?

    As Christians is a bit of real perspective not needed?We can’t serve both God and mammon.

    If a PMS saver really needs money to buy bread or to buy their essentials I am more than happy to for my money(God’s money)to go towards that.

    If it is for someone who has plenty of money already I am not happy with that.

    That may be the wrong thing to say on this blog but I would rather we gave our offering to our brothers and sisters in Pakistan.

  12. canalways

    You are so right in all that you say. However I assume that you were not a Saver in the PMS.

    Let me try and share my information about the people who saved in the PMS.

    1. Approx 75% of the Savers are over 65 who were not risk takers but believed that by saving with the PMS they were in fact providing their money for the wider Church and adopting a Christian approach with their hard earned money.
    2. Christian organisations also saved in the PMS to provide for the type of work overseas that you are referring to and this needed work is being held up because of the crisis we currently face.
    3. The PMS was promoted within Church circles and would also have many accounts that are linked to Christian work namely Mission Ireland.
    4. It is reported that, upwards on 40 to 50 million pounds of PCI congregations throughout Ireland have their money tied up too.
    5. So we have individual savers, congregations, mission work, groups and clubs in PCI who most believed that to save in the PMS, was in fact, providing for much needed help to the wider community and beyond.
    6. There were Ministers on the Board of Directors.
    7.

  13. canalways

    You are so right in all that you say. However I assume you are not a Saver in the PMS.

    Let me try and share some information about the people that I have met who saved in the PMS.

    1. Approx 75% of the Savers are over 65 who were not risk takers but believed that by saving with the PMS they were in fact providing their savings for the wider Church and adopting a Christian approach with their hard earned money.
    2. Christian organisations also saved in the PMS to provide for the type of work overseas that you are referring to and this much needed work is being held up because of the crisis we currently face.
    3. The PMS was promoted within the Church and would also have many internal church accounts that are linked to Christian work.
    4. It is reported that, many millions of PCI congregations throughout Ireland have their money tied up too.
    5. So we have individual savers, congregations, mission work, groups and clubs in PCI who most believed that to save in the PMS, was in fact, providing for much needed help to others and beyond.
    6. There were Ministers helping to run the organisation.
    7. How did we all get this so wrong?
    8. PCI Churches benefitted from the PMS in that they were able to borrow the money for their extensions and new buildings.
    9. Some people have lost their homes, have had to borrow money elswhere, unable to afford basics and are too humiliated to tell their story.

    So what I would like to see is a combined effort of Church and Savers, helping each other to resolve this wrong and restore some faith and in turn we be able to help others.

    It is never too late to help and we need direction from the very top – we are all in this together.

  14. How can our denominaion spare millions to refurbish a building but cannot find a few thousand to provide rural congregations in North Donegal with a minister?

  15. Thank you again Stafford for your continued, determined and wise leadership on PMS matters. We continue to pray for you and all others closely involved with seeking a fair and equitable resolution to this problem. There are many helpful and encouraging individuals working very hard behind the scenes. There are of course many unanswered questions, but let us now pray for a solution, answers will come later.

  16. Forget about the PMS for a minute. Why are we spending millions on a building in Belfast city centre when at the same time we are telling congregations in North Donegal that they are not entitled to their own minister because of financial cutbacks?

  17. Perhaps we should be more concerned that some of what we have given to PCI was used to fund the So representitives of our church being involved in the recent Papal visit.

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