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Church merger one step closer

Plans are afoot to unite the Shetland and Aberdeen presbyteries.

The church in Gulberwick has been earmarked for closure. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

A FORMAL arrangement to merge the Shetland and Aberdeen presbyteries has been reached by the Church of Scotland.

It comes after meetings in Shetland last month and in Aberdeen on 6 November.

The proposal for the new presbytery will be presented to the church’s decision making body the General Assembly for a final decision.

In October it was announced that one third of local Church of Scotland kirks would close in the coming years as Shetland’s 13 parishes unites into one.

The plans came into force in response to a growing national financial deficit, a shortage of ministers and reducing congregation numbers.

Assessor minister to the Presbytery of Shetland Ian Murray said: “This marks a significant moment within the Church of Scotland, as we seek to explore new models of ministry and a sustainable future for our congregations throughout Aberdeen and the Shetland Isles, building upon already strong and historic links between Shetland and Aberdeen.

“The decision comes as Shetland moves towards a single parish ministered to by a team of three ministers of word and sacrament and three ministries development staff, a children’s and youth worker, a parish development worker and one full-time equivalent administrative staff member who will oversee the day-to-day management and finances of the Shetland Parish.”

Murray added that Aberdeen will gain one full-time ministries development staff member and one admin worker to facilitate the united presbytery.

“As well as marking a historic move within the Church of Scotland, the formation of a new presbytery also represents an exciting new opportunity for both existing presbyteries to reform and develop new models of ministry and outreach for the 21st century,” he said.