A proposal to unite the Church of Scotland’s Shetland and Aberdeen presbyteries has been agreed.
The move follows meetings in Shetland on 13th October and Aberdeen on 6th November. The proposal will now be presented to the church’s general assembly for final decision.
The amalgamation of presbyteries has been proposed in response to the Church of Scotland admitting that it is no longer sustainable to keep all of its buildings in Shetland open.
Last month the church revealed a list of 20 kirks earmarked for closure. This list included buildings in Tingwall, Bigton, Hillswick, Voe, Cunningsburgh, Gulberwick, Nesting and Whalsay.
Increasing costs, dwindling congregations and the rising average age of worshippers and ministers have all been blamed for the move, which comes as the Church of Scotland faces a projected loss of over £5 million in 2018.
Shetland presbytery assessor minister the Rev Ian Murray said: “This marks a significant moment within the Church of Scotland, as we seek to explore new models of ministry and a sustainable future for our congregations throughout Aberdeen and the Shetland Isles, building upon already strong and historic links between Shetland and Aberdeen.
“The decision comes as Shetland moves towards a single parish ministered to by a team of three ministers of word and sacrament and three ministries development staff, a children’s and youth worker, a parish development worker and one full-time equivalent administrative staff member who will oversee the day-to-day management and finances of the Shetland parish.”
He added: “As well as marking a historic move within the Church of Scotland, the formation of a new presbytery also represents an exciting new opportunity for both existing presbyteries to reform and develop new models of ministry and outreach for the 21st century.”