PMS: new moderator; same story

Last week Liam Clark’s column in the News Letter again addressed the issue of the Presbyterian Mutual Society. The new moderator elect Norman Hamilton has again suggested that: “We really do care about what happens to you but we can’t fix it.” The current moderator Stafford Carson of course conveniently forgot (or mentally reserved) the high value properties which the PCI owns and clearly has no intention of mortgaging, let alone selling to help the PMS savers: instead stating that the PCI only owned churches and halls and had no other assets. In addition, however, Liam Clarke is asking about the £42 million central investment portfolio and why none of it has been invested in the PMS, nor used to help the savers. Presbyterian moderators seem to have difficulties remembering money: or for that matter it seems certain passages of scripture such as the ninth commandment:

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”

and Mark 12: 38-40:

“And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.”

  • ding dong


    Like the current member for strangford, you’re in danger i suggest of being expelled for un parliamnetary language – calling “moderators” less than honest! Hardly Christian!

    But why do you insist that the Presbyterian Church should sell its assets to bale out an organisation that was operating beyond its remit, that wasn’t regulated by DETI or anyone else and that has no offical or direct connection to the PCI other than it is made up of its members.

    Again I ask the simple question why should the church give my money to bale out the PMS when I specifically gave that money for the purposes of the Church?

    Now again I accept that if the Moderators want to ask for a special collection or fund from the members of the church to help our brethren in difficulty – no problem, I’ll subscribe – but giving my money to bale out a bank or for any other purpose beyond the general running of the PCI would be wrong and deceitful

    Two wrongs does not make a right – even I suggest to and independant methodist!

  • Turgon

    ding dong,
    We have had this debate before. It is true that the PMS is separate to the PCI. However, when it was doing well the PCI was tripping over itself to encourage its members to save with the PMS and indeed to associate itself with the organisation. Then when it all went wrong the PCI and its leaders did an overwhelmingly good Pontious Pilate impression, washing their hands as frequently as they wrung them.

    In addition it seems that PCI moderators do not want to mention their extensive property portfolio or indeed the large sums of money they seem to have.

    You clearly have a different view of what the church should do in this position. However, there is a counter argument: one I and indeed Liam Clarke has put forward. Which one is the correct position from a Christian point of view: well I trust you believe in the Priesthood of all believers and as such I am entitled to my position whatever the PCI’s prelates may say.

    As to me accusing the moderators of being less than honest. Well I have seen little sign of them suing or refuting the truth of Mr. Clarke’s statements in the News Letter.

    Finally I cannot really be thrown out of the PCI: no longer being a member of it. Still if we do move and go back to being Presbyterians I think it would be rather difficult to discipline me for my views on this matter. Priesthood of all believers and such like again.

  • ding dong

    Turgon you’re right we have debated this before, and I believe then, like now, you have failed to answer my fundamental question, why should the PCI use their members money for purposes for which it wasn’t obtained?

    Yes i believe in terms of PR they got it wrong at the beginning but in essence they couldn’t and shouldn’t misappropriate members money to bale out a bank.

    And as for the “Christian viewpoint” forgive me if i don’t fall for that old chestnut, personally i would rather stick to what is legally defensible that being only using money collected for the purpose collected. That rules out bailing out a bank regardless of what it was called.

    As for suing, I view the moderators turning the other cheek highly commendable and very Christian, as you would know – taking each other to court before the courts of the world is explicitedly forbidden.

    As for the Priesthood of all believers not totally sure of the relevance in a secular contect except from the perspective of you being entitled to your opinion and me mine – but as a member of the PCI maybe mine carries just a smigen more weight!

  • Comrade Stalin

    ding dong, this is an organization which is supposed to be professing the Christian faith. What would Jesus do ? Stick his hands in his pockets (stuffed with gold as they were) and say “nowt to do with me guv” ?

    And you can’t claim the church had nothing to do with it. It allowed this organization to use its good name, and people were encouraged to invest in it from the pulpit. The church has a responsibility and it’s shameful to see people arguing that it does not. I don’t agree with Turgon on a lot of stuff but on this matter he is right.

  • ding dong

    Ok lets say for a minute the Church has a moral responsibility to the 10,000 investors (a proposition I don’t accept) So if members of a particular congregation did recieve financial advice from the pulpit lets say they should be compensated but by whom and from whose money – the congregation in which they recieved the financial advice? What of those investors who did so without clerical financial advice should they be compensated or should they be exempted due to recieving no advice from the pulpit?

    What of those who didn’t recieve clerical financial advice but were advice to invest wisely and who invested in other institutions and lost money should the church as a Christ like organisation work to provide a funds for them – again who is going to pay?

    Fundamentally both Turgon and Camrade Stalin keep ducking the fundamental question; why should church assets be sold or mortgaged to bale out the members of a failed bank, when the funds contributed by the church members were not given to underwrite the PMS or any other bank?

    clearly financial advice should not have been given from the pulpit, minister should stick to what they are “good” at – but just because some got it wrong two wrongs don’t make a right and fundamentally that is what is being suggested!

  • ding dong

    One further question guys, when you want the church to sell its assets to provide funds for the investors, what about the churches/congregations that have significant funds invested inthe PMS – should the church sell their buildings so that local congregations can build new ones?

    At the ned of the day members contributed individually – often sacrificially to provide those funds so is the chhurch moraly abliged to refund that money?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Turgon, I find your postings on this issue less than Christian, I am saddened your continuing with these accusations, gonna leave it there, but my opinion of you has been considerably lowered.

  • Paddy

    Churches have outlived their usefulkness in htis area. The Catholic Church sold its company to Irish Life many years ago. Money is fast moving, religions are slow moving and (should be) fiscally conservative by nature.

  • Turgon

    Drumlins Rock,
    “I find your postings on this issue less than Christian”

    Now let us think about that. As a Christian you believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in each person. Now that means that they are answerable to God. Therefore I am answerable to God for my opinions and not to you. Unless of course you have the ability to interpret the Holy Spirit’s position in my life? That would place you as a mediator between God and man and, hence, a form of antiChrist.

    More sensibly maybe you could contribute to the debate on this issue and play the ball rather than the man.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Why would the PCI put its hands in its pockets before all the other areas have been fully explored – if the government bails the PMS out then they can keep their assets if not then they can relook at it.

    The Government failed the savers/investors and should recompense them, and no I have no personal interest.