Wednesday 22 May 2024
 14.1°C   SE Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Community / Twenty churches to close across the isles

THE CHURCH of Scotland plans to close two thirds of its churches in Shetland over the coming years as it attempts to secure a more “sustainable” future.

Tingwall Kirk. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

Interim minister for the north east region Rev Ian Murray said that only 11 out of its 31 churches will be retained in Shetland – but their identities are being kept under wraps publicly for the time being.

Earlier this year the church in Mid Yell was put on the market, while the Uyeasound kirk in Unst also closed its doors after a vote from members due to low attendances.

It is thought that a shortage of minsters, reduced congregations and increasing financial constraints is behind the sweeping closures.

The move follows a meeting of the presbytery of Shetland at the weekend.

Rev Murray said: “Shetland presbytery has been helping Church of Scotland congregations collaborate to meet the challenges of ministry and mission in the 21st century.

“The Presbytery has a legacy of many more church buildings than they need and has faced some difficult choices on which buildings should be retained and which should be let go.

“At the heart of our decision making is the desire to see a sustainable future for the Church of Scotland, its mission and pastoral care for the whole of Shetland.”

Some of the churches which are due to close have been open since the 18th century.

Rev Murray added that the church is exploring forming a new district of Aberdeen and Shetland, with the isles becoming a single parish.

“We have now identified 11 churches to retain out of 31 buildings throughout Shetland, and we will work with our congregations as we move towards a new model of ministry which will result in a single parish and the possible formation of a new presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland,” he said.

“These are both challenging but exciting times in Shetland as we explore a new model of ministry, which may in future years, provide an example to the National Church.”

The Burra Isle parish church said on social media that the weekend’s meeting was a “day of difficult decisions” but one that was taken in “gracious spirit”.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.