The 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.