Wednesday 22 May 2024
 13°C   SE Light Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Community / Members of community keen to explore Hillswick Kirk takeover

The building went on sale earlier this month because it was not in fit state to reopen, Church of Scotland minister says

Inside the Hillswick kirk. Photo: Church of Scotland

THERE is concern in the community over the proposed sale of the Hillswick Kirk – with an apparent lack of consultation with the general community taking some folk by surprise.

Local resident Tom Morton has now started a Friends of the Hillswick Kirk Facebook page to discuss possible future community uses of the 150-year-old building.

In a letter to Shetland News, he said he has asked Church of Scotland to take the kirk off the market until a community proposal can be explored.

As part of Church of Scotland’s plans to close 20 kirks in the isles, the 150-year-old building went on the market earlier this month with an asking price of offers over £40,000.

Transition minister Rev Dr Frances Henderson, however, told BBC Radio Shetland that the decision to put the church on the market at this stage was because its declining condition meant it was unable to reopen.

Photo: Church of Scotland.

It has been known for more than two years that the Hillswick kirk was due to go up for sale at some point, but the timing has taken some by surprise.

Church of Scotland did say last year, however, that the kirk was scheduled to close in 2021/22.

“After lockdown when all our churches were closed, when we visited Hillswick Church with a view to reopening it, we discovered that the building had deteriorated quite a bit in condition,” Henderson said.

She said there was damp, mould and infestation of woodlice. “We concluded then…that the church would not pass the Church of Scotland healthy and safety guidance”.

Henderson described it as a “really reluctant decision” – with a wedding planned for May in the kirk, for example.

She said once the decision was made not to reopen, a letter was sent to all church members in Northmavine, and the local community council was informed too.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


There were online consultations with other church closures in Shetland last year but this did not take place for Hillswick.

Henderson said the online consultations – a replacement for public meetings in the Covid era – were “useful to a point”, but the information was “all coming in one direction” with most submissions anonymous.

She said the Church of Scotland has worked closely with community groups who may be interested in taking on kirks and have given them advice.

Morton encouraged anyone with ideas about the possible future use of the church to get involved with the Friends of the Hillswick Kirk Facebook page.

“It seems generally felt that maintaining the building for multi-faith worship, weddings and funerals must remain paramount, but other functions that do not compete with local resources such as the hall, art gallery and hotel should also be considered,” he said.

“It may be that the building is indeed in such a sorry state that any community takeover would be fraught with peril.

“Nevertheless I think we should at least be given the opportunity to preserve and develop what is a major part of Northmavine history and a dominant structure in the village of Hillswick.”

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.