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Community / Lunna Kirk to be sold in final phase of church closures

Lunna Kirk, Shetland's oldest kirk still in use, is set to close and be sold. Photo: Shetland News

THE HISTORIC Lunna Kirk features among the next phase of church closures in Shetland.

Also due to be closed this year is Tingwall, Whalsay, Gulberwick, Dunrossness and Out Skerries.

Community groups keen on taking on a church building are being encouraged to make their interest known.

It comes after the Church of Scotland announced in 2018 that it would close 20 of its 31 buildings as it looked to make operations more sustainable.

These closures have been part of a wider structural reform, with 13 parishes uniting into a single Parish of Shetland.

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

In the past two years 13 of these buildings have been sold or are under offer, with Fair Isle on hold to allow for community plans.

Four of these churches have been sold to community groups.

The church is now entering the final phase of its disposal program.

Lunna has an almost untouched 18th Century interior, and parts of the church date back to medieval times.

Meanwhile Tingwall is situated at the ancient heart of Shetland, and once hosted the isles’ earliest parliament.

Like Whalsay, Dunrossness, and Lunna, Tingwall church is situated in the middle of a graveyard.

The Church of Scotland said it recognises that closing these buildings will be a “difficult milestone for the community”.

“Shetland Church of Scotland has always stated that they would love to consider possibilities for community ownership,” a spokesperson said.

“Currently the Church is in dialogue with the Skerries Development Group to explore options for the Out Skerries Kirk.

“Some individuals have also raised concerns about Lunna Kirk.

“But even after an appeal last summer for interested parties to get in touch, there has been no other response.

“The sales are likely to begin in spring, and should be completed by the end of this year, so anyone interested needs to move very quickly now.

“The Church would love to transfer these buildings to community ownership, but needs a community buyer to come forward.”

Anyone looking to contact the Church of Scotland around community ownership should get in touch with Rev. Fran Henderson at ShetlandParish@churchofscotland.org.uk