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Community / Action group confident it can secure Lunna Kirk for the community

Church of Scotland has delayed sale to allow Lunna Kirk Preservation Group time to make a bid

Lunna Kirk. Photo: Shetland News

A GROUP set up to save the historic Lunna Kirk and bring it into community ownership is now in a position to accept donations after having been awarded charitable status.

The Lunna Kirk Preservation Group (SCIO) was formed in response to the Church of Scotland announcing at the start of the year that it was to close and sell off the building, the oldest church still in use in Shetland.

Dating back to the 11th century, the kirk’s historic significance goes far beyond the boundaries of the Lunnasting parish, mainly due to its close association with the Shetland Bus wartime operation.

The charity has been founded to preserve the building for the community. Its additional charitable purposes are the advancement of heritage and the advancement of religion.

Steven Robertson, chairperson for the group, said: “Following a survey, the overwhelming feedback from the local community reflected a desire to save the building for its history, to bring it into community ownership and to safeguard the building as a place of worship and remembrance.”

The group said it hopes to be considered for a direct sale of the building. Should there be a favourable outcome to this, it would remove the concern of losing the building on the open market, he added.

“This has not yet been agreed and as part of this continued dialogue, the group are building a business plan outlining running costs and fundraising plans,” he said.

“The group are also working on a crowdfunding page and organising other fundraising activities. Should the bid to purchase the Lunna Kirk be unsuccessful, provision has been made to return donations, when requested, or, alternatively, distribute them to local causes and charities.

“Should the group be successful in their bid to purchase the Lunna Kirk and have funds beyond the purchase value of the building, it is understood by the group that this money will go towards running costs and subsequent maintenance.

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“The Lunna Kirk Preservation Group would then supply annual updates to all its charity members showing how the funds are being used to preserve and maintain the Lunna Kirk for the future.”

Local representatives of the Church of Scotland have expressed their support and gratitude for the group’s intentions.

The Rev Frances Henderson said: “I am very impressed by the work of the Lunna Kirk Preservation Group, and am delighted to see them making such good progress.

“The Church of Scotland has gladly agreed to delay the next stage of the sale process until spring, so that the group has the time they need to put their business plan together.

“There can be no guarantees until everything is finally completed, but there
is every reason to be hopeful of a good outcome.”

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Lunna Kirk Preservation Group (SCIO) or who wants to know more about their fundraising work can contact the group at lunnakirkcommunitygroup@hotmail.com 

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