More than 30 historic church buildings could be closed under plans

A draft plan includes a list of 31 church buildings and at least seven manses that would be released by the kirk.

More than 30 historic church buildings could be closed under plans iStock

More than 30 historic church buildings could be closed under proposals set to be considered by the Church of Scotland.

A draft plan includes a list of 31 church buildings and at least seven manses that would be released by the kirk.

It would be part of a move to streamline the ministry, with the plans to be discussed at a presbytery meeting on September 10.

The buildings featured on the list are located across Inverness and West Moray.

The Church has indicated that not a single congregation will be closed under the plan, but congregations will instead come together.

Rev Mike Robertson, convener of Inverness Presbytery’s mission planning group, explained that change is necessary, though acknowledged that the decisions will be difficult.

“The task we are faced with is to produce a Mission Plan for the next five years, which ensures we are using limited resources as best we can and doing it as equitably as possible,” he said.

“This is a draft plan and is still to be considered by Presbytery in September. However, change is necessary in order to deliver sustainable and realistic new expressions of ministry and church and ensure all buildings are suitable for the needs of mission in the 21st century.

“We recognise that throughout the Inverness Presbytery and beyond, there are buildings where congregations are engaging in positive outreach work to support their communities, so we know that some of these decisions will be difficult. 

“However, a proposed closure of a particular building is not a judgement on the congregation, but part of a mission plan for the whole of the Presbytery area.”

Robertson outlined the need for the church to be fit for the future.

“As the Inverness Presbytery Plan, it makes no proposals concerning Ross, but as our Presbytery borders Ross, it will doubtless have a future impact as wider presbytery reform takes shape,” he continued.

“Whilst there appears to be significant reductions, as a necessary consequence of us not having addressed these issues over recent decades, the plan does not see the church lifting its tent pegs or retreating from the area. Far from it.

“It is pruning and re-shaping to be a missional church, fit for today and the future, for growth.”

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