PMS update

pmslogo_smallLast week I attended a series of information and clarification meetings held by the Administrator in Carnmoney, Newry, Ballymena and Bangor. There are four further meetings to be held after Easter in Armagh, Londonderry, Lisburn and Fisherwick.

The Administrator, Mr Arthur Boyd, has used the opportunity to describe the details of the Scheme of Arrangement and to answer questions which savers have posed. Some of the answers to these questions have been posted here. I believe that most savers have gone away from these meetings feeling reassured and confident of a good outcome.

Overall, the Scheme is well-received by the members because it promises a better and quicker outcome than the alternative of the Society going into liquidation. If liquidated, the smaller savers would receive nothing and the larger creditors would end up with at least 15% less than they are being offered.

It is crucial that all members respond to the offer before May 6th, and as someone said at one of the meetings last week, “not to put the papers behind the clock and forget about them”. So if you are a member and you haven’t voted yet, please consider getting your vote sent off before the end of this week.

At these meetings I have been able to make the point that the additional voluntary deferral option should be seriously considered by congregations who do not need immediate access to all their money. This would really be them taking a small step back in the queue and allowing smaller savers to get access to all their money immediately. I believe that this would not only benefit the smaller savers, but would counteract the negative perceptions of the church during this crisis. If enough congregations would opt for this additional deferral, the actual amount deferred could be very small (perhaps 5% or less) but would greatly benefit a large number of needy people. I encourage treasurers and members of congregational committees to think seriously about this option.

Running a leg!

P1010031I am hoping to run a leg of the Belfast Marathon on May Bank Holiday Monday in order to support the work of Tearfund in Ethiopia. The first leg of the relay will be run by two Ethiopian church leaders, so that should get us off to a good start! Imagine being part of a relay team that includes Ethiopian runners! It will all quickly deteriorate, however, with me on the second leg from Bridge End to Hillview Road. The very name, Hillview Road, says it all. It’s a short up-hill leg that is bound to kill me.

Other church leaders who are taking part are Bishop Harold Miller, Rev Ken Todd, Former Methodist President, Rev. David McClay, co-leader of New Wine Ireland, Dave Dunlop, Windsor Baptist Pastor, Dave Dickinson, Alpha Ireland and Beth Laverty, 24/7 Prayer Ireland. We will be joined by over 100 other church members who are running in support of Tearfund. Continue reading “Running a leg!”

Nuancing Nelson

nelson-mccauslandThe Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland, attracted some criticism recently for suggesting that the Belfast Festival at Queen’s include some southern Gospel music in its programme of events. The organizers of the festival were quick to affirm their artistic integrity and to express their annoyance at being given some suggestions from a political person, notwithstanding the fact that the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure makes a significant financial contribution to the whole operation.

But in spite of the criticism, it seems that Mr McCausland may be pointing to a significant gap in the offerings at the festival and within our community generally. Inadvertently, he may also have initiated an important theological discussion that could prove helpful to all who have an interest in our culture, arts and leisure. The fact is that, traditionally, evangelical Christians have not been notable supporters of the arts, be they visual, musical, or dramatic. That’s because many of them do not have a theology of the arts or entertainment.

The traditional evangelical view was that the arts are “worldly”, and therefore sinful, and ought to be avoided. It was believed that there was no spiritual benefit to be gained from attending the theatre or the cinema, and in fact, one was exposing oneself unnecessarily to influences and attitudes which were, at best, diversionary, and at worst, dangerous with regard to one’s personal sanctification. In theological terms, when it came to the arts, the doctrine of sin trumped the doctrine of creation. The world of the arts had become so corrupted by human sin and depravity so that nothing that contributed to the glory of God was visible. Continue reading “Nuancing Nelson”

PMS update

The Administrator has given an update on the current state of play with regard to the Presbyterian Mutual Society. This is what he said:

I am pleased to be able to tell members and creditors that the Court has approved the process by which I will put a proposed Scheme of Arrangement to a vote. The proposed scheme is designed to facilitate the pay out of those sums provided by the Government and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland by way of financial assistance. I expect to be able to send the proposed scheme and voting papers to members and creditors next week. They will receive all the information necessary on which to make a decision to accept or reject the proposed scheme. If it is accepted, it will require to be sanctioned by the Court before payments can be made. At this stage it is not possible to be precise about timings, but all being well I hope to be in a position – if the scheme is approved – to process payments in late June/early July.

This should come as good news to all PMS savers. Once the details of the Scheme of Arrangement are unveiled, there will be a number of information and clarification meetings around the country to explain it, so that creditors will have a clear idea of exactly what they are being asked to approve. It may also need to be pointed out to them what the implications will be if they give a thumbs-down to the Scheme. The details, times and venues of those meetings will be sent out out to all savers by the Administrator.

It is my hope that creditors will vote in favour of the Scheme and that those congregations and individuals who are in a position to leave a small percentage of their money in the PMS for a few more years will do so. In that way, smaller savers will stand to get all their money back immediately. Throughout this campaign, that has been our goal, and with good co-operation all round, it can be achieved.