Changes to Criminal Record Checks for ministers

In November 2018 Mission Council approved the principles set out in the Safeguarding Advisory Group Paper R3 for shaping a new code of practice around vetting, disclosure and barring checks and safer recruitment procedures.

The new code of practice states:

Section 11 
Certain General Assembly appointees and others undertaking roles for the denomination, including ministers, will be deemed to be engaging in ‘Regulated Activity’ and therefore require a criminal record check prior to undertaking such work. 
Section 16
DBS checks for all roles and positions of the URC must be renewed every five years.

From 1 January 2019 Criminal Record checks are not requested when a minister changes pastorate or position. This was agreed by the Safeguarding Advisory Group meeting on 7 November 2018.

Criminal Record checks will be carried out for all roles and positions in the URC every five years and carried out prior to the start of training and prior to ordination / commissioning.

For Ministers in Stipendiary service a ‘home base’ check will be carried out which includes checking the background of other individuals aged over 18 living in the manse.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for ministers and Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers (AALP) serving in England and Wales

From 12 July 2019 the Ministries Office will be using Due Diligence Checking (DDC) as our umbrella body for disclosure checks for ministers and assembly accredited lay preachers. DDC offer an on-line service which is far quicker than our current paper application process handled by the Ministries Office and is a secure method of application. Paper applications will still be available, but we envisage that the majority of our checks will be completed online. DBS checks should be renewed every five years.

New Procedure for DBS Checks

Online

  1. The ministries office will send the minister or AALP a notification that their DBS is due for renewal via email and notify DDC.
  2. DDC will contact the minister or AALP with their logon and password to their system.
  3. The minister or AALP will be asked to enter their details online, making any payments where required and nominating the documents the minister or AALP want to use, that meet the DBS requirements for checking identity. The online application will ask the minister or AALP to contact the Ministries office to nominate their document checker.
    Note: Document checkers for ministers and AALP can only be ACTIVE URC ministers.
  4. The minister or AALP will contact an active URC minister to make arrangements for their identity documents to be checked and contact the ministries office with the minister’s name (permission should be sought first) and the ministries office will add that person as a document checker. DDC will send them their own login and password.
  5. The minister or AALP will make arrangements for their identity documents to be checked.
  6. The document checker will go on line, confirm the minister or AALP identity documents and submit the minister or AALP application to DDC.
  7. DDC will then countersign the application and submit it to DBS
  8. The minister or AALP will receive their disclosure certificate direct from Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Please checked it and if you are not completely satisfied that it shows the correct information contact DBS here. The minister or AALP will normally no longer need to send their original disclosure in to the ministries office as we will be notified by DDC of the minister or AALP ‘clear’ disclosure information by email.
  9. If a Certificate is issued that contains information that needs to be reviewed by the United Reformed Church, a notification will be sent to the United Reformed Church Safeguarding Office. A process will then be initiated to collect the Certificate from the minister or AALP, review the contents and undertake a risk assessment. Once this has been completed an automated email will be sent to the Ministries officer to confirm that the minister or AALP can begin their role with the church. If the minister or AALP cannot be cleared to work in the role, or specific conditions are required, the Ministries office will be notified.


Paper

Paper applications are still available and if the ministries office does not have an email address for the minister or AALP we will request DDC to send the minister or AALP a paper application pack.

  1. The application form should be completed, and contact made with an active minister to make arrangements for the minister or AALP identity documents to be checked.
  2. The minister or AALP will contact the ministries office with the minister’s name (please ask their permission first) and the ministries office will add that person as a document checker.
  3. Copies will need to be made of the minister or AALP identity documents, which are checked by the document checker (who also completes a form) and the entire pack returned to DDC.
  4. The minister or AALP will receive their disclosure certificate direct from Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Please checked it and if you are not completely satisfied that it shows the correct information contact DBS here. The minister or AALP will normally no longer need to send their original disclosure in to the ministries office as we will be notified by DDC of the minister or AALP ‘clear’ disclosure information by email.

 

Online Update Service

The United Reformed Church are unable to use the Online Update Service for stipendiary ministers

Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) membership for ministers serving in Scotland

Disclosure Scotland do not yet have an online submission facility for PVG checks so ministers in Scotland will still continue to use the paper based process of application. Church House will submit an application for ministers to ensure that the URC ‘register an interest’ in that minister. This means that should that minister become ‘considered for barring’ in the future, Church House would be notified by Disclosure Scotland.

Procedure

  1. The Ministries office will send the minister or AALP a notification that their DBS is due for renewal via email and notify DDC.
  2. DDC will post to the minister the correct paper application form.

An application to join the PVG Scheme – this form is used if the minister has never joined the PVG Scheme and does not have any kind of PVG Scheme membership number. This application form will result in a Scheme Record being issued to the minister as their record of the check results. This application will also register Church House interest in the minister should they become ‘considered for barring’ in the future.


An existing PVG Scheme Member application – this form is used by a minister that has already applied for a PVG Scheme Membership Statement or Record. The results of this check will indicate if anything on the previously issued Scheme Record has been added.

3. The minister should complete the application form and take it with a minimum of 3 forms of identity to an Active URC minister (verifier) for completion of the process. The appropriate forms of proof of identity are listed in the guidance notes in the application pack.

4. Return the completed application pack in the addressed envelope provided to DDC and include

Completed and signed application form

Photocopies of the original identity documents

Completed and signed Verifer Identity Document Check Sheet to DDC

PLEASE NOTE: Remember to pay the postage for the return envelope.

5. DDC will process the application form and check the details of the identity documents match the information on the form. DDC will then countersign the application and send it to Disclosure Scotland. 

6. When the Scheme Record or Scheme Update is issued, Disclosure Scotland will send a paper copy to the minister’s home address and will also send DDC a copy. DDC will let you know via email when they receive this (if a contact email address has been provided). DDC will also let the Ministries office know via email and send their copy of the Scheme Record or Scheme Update.

Disclosure Checks for Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers in Scotland

Assembly Accredited Lay Preachers in Scotland are not eligible to join the PVG Scheme
Church house will send you a Self Declaration Form which you must complete, sign and return to the Ministries Office.

In 2015 the Ministries Committee commissioned a survey of all United Reformed Church ministers to seek a better understanding of the pressure and stress experienced by serving ministers.

An invitation to participate in the survey was sent to all ministers who had an identifiable role, whether they were in stipendiary or non-stipendiary service, and whether or not their ministry was exercised under the direct oversight of the United Reformed Church or for another body, e.g. chaplaincy. Approximately 625 invitations were sent out and 62% responded.

The survey and analysis was conducted by Dr Robert Wilcox and colleagues at InterHealth and was undertaken during the month of February. The data was collected and examined in a manner which maintained the anonymity of the participants and a presentation of the statistically significant results was made to synod moderators and a number of General Assembly appointed staff in May.

On this page you will find links to the following documents:

Please note that the reports use abbreviations that may not be immediately obvious to all readers. These include:
SSM Self-Supporting Ministry This is the term used by the report writers to refer to ministers in non-stipendiary service.
HFD House for Duty A relatively rare form of ministry within the United Reformed Church but more common within the Church of England.

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The ministries committee is responsible for

Vocations Sunday 2019 – 12 May

The Ministries Committee has not commissioned any new materials for this year's Vocations Sunday however links to previous material can be found below and the Revd Andy Braunston has created a booklet containing vocation themed devotions from the United Reformed Church's Daily Devotions, for which we are very grateful. That can be downloaded here: Vocation Reflection Booklet

Although Vocations Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Easter, and some material is linked to the Lectionary readings for that Sunday, it can be marked at any point in the year.

Ministers Gathering 30 April to 3 May 2018

Here are Peggy Kabonde's three Powerpoint presentations, the Powerpoint presentations for Loveday Alexander’s Bible studies along with her ‘Stations of Mark’s Gospel’ and the closing reflections of Francis Brienen and Geoffrey Clarke. Links to videos and photos are below.

Setting the Scene

Rowan Williams
Disciples in the Modern City: Maria Skobtsova – Race, Refugees and Martyrdom:

Peggy Kabonde
The discipleship challenge in the 21st Century pt 1:

Songs – a link to the songs used by Iain McLarty and Doug Gay:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZRelYkRJ1n8OxrDnH6ZJiY7t-caerv8RVzCsKBw8X3A/edit?usp=sharing

Photos – a link to photographs from the event and these can be downloaded and used for non-commercial purposes:
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmbd16cm

Are you thinking about ministry?

Some ministers tell their stories:

  1. Sally
  2. Dorothee
  3. Sohail
  4. David
  5. Judith
  6. Stephen
  7. Fiona
  8. Mike


Some CRCWs talk about their ministry

Introduction to the ministry of Church Related Community Work
CRCW 1
CRCW 2
CRCW 3


The ministries committee deals with general policy on ministry issues and produces major reports and publications like 'Equipping the Saints'.
Within the committee there are 5 sub-committees and one advocate:

Assessment Board
Responsible for the candidating procedures and assesses candidates for the Ministry of Word and Sacraments and Church Related Community Work

Accreditation sub-committee
Maintains the roll of ministers, accredits those applying for inclusion after training and those coming from other denominations. It also deals with applications for Special Category Ministry posts

Church Related Community Work Programme sub-committee
Is responsible for supporting the Church Related Community Work Ministry and Programme under the terms agreed in the Church Related Community Work Covenant. This includes the accreditation of Churches-in-Community

Maintenance of the Ministry sub-committee
Advises on the level of stipend and ministers’ conditions of service through the Plan for Partnership. It is also concerned for pensions through its associated Pensions Sub-Committee.

Retired Ministers' Housing sub-committee
Works in Association with the United Reformed Church Retired Ministers' Housing Society Ltd.

Leadership in worship advocate
Resources for worship

The committee is also involved with or responsible for:

This sub-committee is responsible for policy in matters of the provision of retirement housing for ministers and their spouses.  It uses the United Reformed Church Retired Ministers' Housing Society Limited as its agent for the implementation of policy and the practical steps associated with the provision of housing

  1. Preamble
  2. Link
  3. Parameters of the scheme
  4. Ministers
  5. Link
  6. Widows and widowers
  7. Part-time Pastorates

The United Reformed Church Retired Ministers’ Housing Provision for Housing Retired Ministers and CRCWs

(This document is available in pdf format here)

1 Preamble

At the 1979 General Assembly the United Reformed Church accepted a moral obligation to provide housing for retired ministers and ministers’ widows who could not otherwise be adequately housed. The relevant clauses of the resolution read as follows:

‘The United Reformed Church delegates to its Finance and Administration department the responsibility for providing housing for retired ministers and ministers’ widows and this it exercises through the United Reformed Church Retired Ministers’ Housing Society Limited, an independent Company operating within the Finance department.

The Church regards it as a matter of integrity that retired ministers and ministers’ widows should be adequately housed and supports the Housing Society in its appeal for funds and its objects.
The Assembly approves the appointment of a ‘Retired Ministers’ Housing Committee’ within the Finance and Administration department to have oversight of matters concerned with the provision of retirement housing for ministers and ministers’ widows and to manage the properties held on behalf of the United Reformed Church.’

These Guidelines were produced and have been revised periodically including a major revision in 1985 and 2008. An appeal to the whole church was made in 2006 to secure further funds.

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2

By this action Assembly did not institute an entitlement to retirement housing as of right. A minister and his/her spouse who have the finance necessary to provide for housing in their retirement (whether completely or as an equity share) may reasonably be expected to do so. Given our limited liquid capital position, the provision of housing by the Housing Society is for those who would not otherwise have any way of being adequately housed, and policies regarding use of capital are thus heavily weighted in that direction.

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3 Parameters of the Scheme

The ministers covered by this Scheme are ministers of Word and Sacraments and CRCWs who are on the United Reformed Church Roll and in receipt of a stipend.

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4 Ministers

Normally an applicant must be a minister of the United Reformed Church and must meet the following conditions:

(1) All applicants must be in the stipendiary service of the Church at:
EITHER (a) age 65 or later agreed retirement date;
OR (b) less than age 65, but having completed 40 years service since ordination and been allowed to retire on pension without early retirement deduction;
OR (c) less than age 65, but having been permitted to retire early on grounds of physical or mental incapacity, duly certified by a medical practitioner to the satisfaction of the Maintenance of the Ministry committee. In these circumstances the number of years which the minister could have served up to age 65 would be taken into account in establishing the amount to be made available under 4 (2) below.

(2) The Housing committee will meet at least annually to decide a ceiling for each county or comparable area. This will be the maximum amount which the Society can make available for housing to the applicant, subject to their need being established. At the time of retirement, a minister, having served a minimum of 15 years and needing housing assistance will be offered 1/40 of that sum multiplied by the years of his/her service, up to the maximum.

This will be introduced gradually during the ten years to 2018. Three years of training will be added to the years of service for this purpose. Ministers can apply directly to the Housing Society for special consideration if their financial circumstances mean that they could not be housed using this formula.

(3) Where a minister satisfies the requirements above but moves into part-time service immediately upon ceasing full-time service, the entitlement to consideration for assistance will be carried forward until final retirement.

(4) Equivalent full-time service is pro rata part-time service (i.e. ten years of 50% scoped service is equivalent to five years full-time service)

(5) An application from any minister whose service falls just outside these guidelines may be considered nine months before retirement in the light of the merits of the case and the resources available at the time.

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5

Service for this purpose will be full-time and stipendiary in an appointment for which the terms of service include the provision of housing by the Church or other body, and within one or more of the following categories:

(1) Service with the United Reformed Church (URC) AND/OR the Congregational Church of England and Wales AND/OR the Presbyterian Church of England AND/OR the Re-formed Association of Churches of Christ AND/OR The Congregational Union of Scotland, and their predecessors, either in pastoral charge, in an Assembly, synod or district appointment or in a special ministry.

(2) Service in a national ecumenical council OR agency in the United Kingdom (UK) in which the URC is directly involved and in which the terms of service are comparable to those of ministers in the URC. Normally such service shall not exceed ten years.

(3) Service with a county OR regional ecumenical body in the UK in which the URC is directly involved either as full-time service or as part-time service coupled with service in a URC Pastorate. Normally such service shall not exceed ten years.

(4) Service in a Local Ecumenical Project (LEP) in which the URC is a full participant: such LEP being duly registered as a local congregation or group of congregations in the British Council of Churches or the successor bodies’ registers and recorded as a Local Church in the URC.

(5) Service overseas since July 1977 through the Council for World Mission OR through the Mission committee of the URC, as full-time ministerial service.

(6) Service as a chaplain in hospitals, schools, colleges or universities, industry or the armed forces which is full-time ministerial service on terms which are comparable with those of full-time URC ministers and in which the URC is directly involved. Normally, only the first ten years of such service shall count towards calculation of housing assistance.

(7) Service with Mansfield, Northern, The Queen’s, Westminster and Scottish Congregational Colleges on terms comparable with the conditions of service of full-time URC ministers.

(8) Such other service rendered by a URC minister as may from time to time be agreed by the Retired Ministers Housing committee to constitute qualifying service.

It is in the interest of a minister, who is considering taking up an appointment involving service as outlined in sub-paragraphs (2) to (7) above OR in any other activity and at retirement will require assistance with housing, to consult the secretary of the Retired Ministers Housing committee.

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6 Widows and Widowers

(1) The widow, widower or registered civil partner of a minister who dies in retirement as a tenant of a Society property will be granted the transfer of the tenancy on the same terms as the deceased minister providing that the marriage/registration took place before the minister’s 65th birthday, or the date of retirement if later.

(2) The widow, widower or registered civil partner of a minister who dies in full-time service and whose service meets or could have met the requirements of paragraph 4(1) above by his or her 65th birthday, will be assisted with housing (except where personal financial resources are sufficient to provide for this). In these circumstances the number of years which the minister could have served up to age 65 would be taken into account in establishing the amount to be made available under 4 (2) above.

(3) In all other cases the needs of a minister’s widow, widower or registered civil partner will be considered in the light of the circumstances of each case.

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7 Part-time Pastorates

(1) It is not the responsibility of the Society to provide housing for ministers in part-time stipendiary pastorates. Therefore, a minister who moves from a full-time to a part-time stipendiary pastorate at the age of 65 or later can have no expectation of assistance with retirement housing at this stage, but will be considered for retirement housing when finally retiring from pastoral charge, subject to the qualifying service requirements in sections 4 and 5 above being met.

(2) Should a retired minister who is already a tenant of the Society, or of a property managed by the Society on behalf of the URC, be called to a part-time stipendiary pastorate, or his/her period of charge be extended beyond that initial call, the Society will consider continuation of the tenancy subject to consideration by the pastorate making the call to pay the rent surcharge appropriate to that property if possible.

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The United Reformed Church believes that God continues to call people of all ages and backgrounds to the risks and joys of discipleship. It is through faithful obedience that lives of individuals and the world around us are transformed. To support and encourage individuals and congregations in their calling we offer the following resources for the whole church: 

  • The Children's and Youth and Pilots pages contain information and resources relating to particular work amongst and by the younger members of the church.
  • The Church Related Community Work pages support the United Reformed Church’s distinctive ministry of community development.
  • Resources and guidance for Lay Preachers, Elders and Ministers of Word and Sacraments are to be found in Ministries Committee.
  • Learning and development opportunities for everyone within the church can be found at Education and Learning, as well as more particular matters regarding ministerial training.
  • Good Practice: Safeguarding Children and Adults at Risk  the Good Practice pack and other information relating to safeguarding children and adults in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.