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Community / Community ready to face the challenge of taking on Lunna kirk

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

AROUND 40 people turned out for a meeting in the Vidlin hall last night to discuss the future of Lunna Kirk.

Earlier this month the Church of Scotland confirmed that would close and dispose of the historic kirk on the Lunna peninsula this year and expressed the hope that the local community would be in a position to take it on.

During the two hour meeting on Tuesday a steering committee to take things forward was formed.

One of the first actions will be community survey to allow everybody in the village to put forward their views and comments on the project.

This will likely happen over a two-week period and will be followed by a further community meeting, date to be confirmed.

One of the organisers, Emma Dawn Coote, said the general feeling of the meeting was to preserve the kirk as it is and to find a new use for it.

“It is clear that the community doesn’t want Lunna kirk to be sold to a private buyer,” she said.

Tuesday night’s meeting was also attended by the Rev Fran Henderson and the Rev to Lynn Brady to provide information on how a church building can be sold into community ownership.

The council’s community involvement and development officer for the Lunnasting area Frances Browne was also at the meeting to give guidance on community ownership and the processes involved.

Coote said an online petition organised by the family of the late David Howarth, author of an authoritative book on the Shetland Bus wartime operation, had been of tremendous help in raising awareness beyond Lunnasting.

A contact e-mail address lunnakirkcommunitygroup@hotmail.com  has now been set up for people to ask questions, put forward proposals or register their interest to help out as a volunteer.

The sale of Lunna Kirk is part of a major re-structuring of the Church of Scotland in Shetland with the sale of 20 of its 31 church buildings in Shetland.

In early February the Church of Scotland confirmed the final phase of that programme with the closure of the churches at Lunna, Tingwall, Whalsay, Gulberwick, Dunrossness and Out Skerries.

Last week the Bigton Collective was handed the keys to the St Ninian’s Church following a community buyout.