Church at crossroads

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The news that all three Church of Scotland ministers will have left their posts in a matter of months must be of great concern to the parishes across the island.

Church membership may be dwindling but there are still eight active parish congregations who play an important part in the fabric of island life.

The ministers on Arran work hard, very hard. Before the pandemic – which shut the churches, along with everything else – Rev Watson had been long looking after the spiritual needs of Whiting Bay and the south end, Rev McKinnon conducted two services every Sunday at Lamlash and Kilmory, and the work the Rev Adamson and Mrs Hunter got through on a Sunday covering five parishes and Montrose House is quite remarkable.

Add to that their daily duties combined with funerals, baptisms, communion and, to a lesser extent these days, weddings, and it is clear the present incumbents will be sadly missed.

A statement from the Church of Scotland Edinburgh headquarters, often referred to as 121 George Street, or simply 121, said this week: ‘Moving forward, the Presbytery of Ardrossan will consider proposals to ensure that the church has a long-term, sustainable future on Arran.’

Consider proposals? That surely means that change is on the way, but given the workload of the three existing ministers it seems absurd that they would try to structure the island parishes with fewer ministers in post.

All eight parishes pride their independence and there may be a long saga ahead to see if the Church of Scotland on Arran can survive in its present form.