Will some of the Irvine and Stewarton church buildings be closed?

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The mission plan of the Presbytery of the Church of Scotland has already shaken several congregations across Ayrshire.

Our sister newspaper, the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, reported last month how the plans would see six churches in the Ardrossan Presbytery area close.

The properties will be closed due to “excess buildings” described in the plan, and the closures will consolidate several communities in those areas.

The decision as to which buildings should be closed was based on ‘asset management building audits’ (AMBA) carried out at each church.

This mission plan in Ardrossan is part of a wider plan which will see them join with five other presbyteries to form the Presbytery of South West Scotland in September 2022.

One of these presbyteries is Irvine and Kilmarnock – so it begs the question whether we will see similar closures in Irvine and Stewarton.

The Times has obtained information that clarifies the position at this time. It should be noted that the Irvine/Kilmarnock Presbytery plan is currently at draft stage so no changes have been finalised.

From the information available to us, it appears that one church building in Stewarton, dating back to the late 1600s, has been earmarked for closure.

The draft mission plan indicates the planned congregational associations, as well as the categories of buildings (category A and B). It also details how many full-time equivalent (FTE) ministers will be retained.

While Category A must be retained after five years from the date of approval or annual mission plan review, Category B buildings must be sold, leased or otherwise disposed of by a specified date.

At Stewarton, the union of John Knox and St. Columba’s is recommended. While the church of John Knox, the hall and hall in the cathedral of St. Columbus is assigned to category A, the building of the church of St. The union will have one FTE minister.

In Irvine, the picture is not so unambiguous. Six churches (Fullarton, Girdle Toll, Murray Relief, Old, St Andrew’s and Dreghorn and Springside) are expected to form one union with 2.5 FTE ministers.

The Times was informed that: “The decision regarding Irvine’s church buildings is to decide which buildings to keep and to vacate during the first two years of the amalgamation of the five existing congregations, after a vision and mission for the city has been developed . outside.

“The presbytery’s plan is to have 2.5 ministers to serve one parish church, which will have a number of centers of worship, work and witness throughout the city.”

Currently, no church buildings in Irvine will be closed, although a decision may be made in two years. Technically, the decision could be made to keep everything open.

However, this appears to be the exception of St Andrew’s, which has been closed since October 2020. Since then, Episcopal parishioners have moved to a sister church in Ardrossan, while Church of Scotland parishioners have moved to Girdle Toll.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “The presbyteries of Ayr, Ardrossan, Irvine and Kilmarnock are in the process of drawing up mission plans which will determine how limited resources are allocated to congregations over a five-year period.

“This is a road map to the future because change is needed to provide sustainable and realistic new expressions of ministry and to ensure that well-equipped places are in the right places to effectively serve people in our communities.

“The aim is to determine whether the buildings meet the missional role of the congregation and whether it is appropriate to spend local and/or central resources to introduce or improve standards. No final decisions have been made.

“Draft mission plans must be agreed by the presbyteries, the Faith Education Forum and the General Trustees by December 31, 2022.”

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