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St Giles Cathedral.jpg
St Giles Cathedral.jpg
Church News

Church of Scotland to change every congregation in Edinburgh

by Alex Collett

Two historic places of worship could possibly unite as the Church of Scotland proposes big changes to every congregation in Edinburgh.

St Giles Cathedral in the heart of the old town and Canongate Kirk towards the foot of the Royal Mile, are the two places of worship that possibly could unite.

In a presbytery mission plan, a consultation document has set out proposals for 27 new congregations, each formed by uniting two, three or sometimes four existing congregations.

They have been grouped in seven mission districts covering each part of Edinburgh and the “border” area with West Lothian.

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland told Premier: “The Church is committed to operating more effectively and efficiently to ensure that it is properly equipped to deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ in a dynamic and sustainable way.

“The church in Edinburgh is at the very start of a four-year process to ensure that the best structures are in place to meet 21st century mission needs.

“The objective is to ensure that congregations work more closely together in efficient and imaginative ways to serve local communities.”

St Giles Cathedral also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, dates back to the 14th century. It was where John Knox preached and has been at the heart of much Scottish history.

Canongate Kirk, built in 1691, is where the Queen and the Royal family worship when they are staying at nearby Holyrood Palace and where the Queen’s grand-daughter Zara was married in 2011.

Premier was told within the plan: "The issue is whether the Church of Scotland requires two places of worship in the Royal Mile. The consensus is that currently it is important to retain both buildings."

It also goes on to say that the insurance for St Giles is "exorbitant" and adds: "Consideration must be given to releasing the building to Historic Environment Scotland and a conversation with them is required to consider all possible options."

The Church of Scotland went on to tell Premier: “A planning strategy team has produced a consultation document for discussion but no final decisions have been made and the details contained within are subject to change.

“An agreed plan on the best way forward will be drawn up in due course and will be informed by the outcome of a study carried out by the General Trustees, the property holding arm of the Church of Scotland.

“They have made no determinations about the estate and when this work is complete, official proposals will be drafted for discussion.”

Kirk ministers in Edinburgh will also be slashed by 40 percent, The Church of Scotland has a national shortage of ministers and last year’s General Assembly therefore agreed to set a limit on the number of posts allowed in each presbytery across the country.

Edinburgh is being cut from 78 to 48.5 full-time posts – ministers, deacons and ministries development staff, which includes youth workers, parish assistants, community workers and others.

These reductions must take place by December 2025, and will be achieved partly by ministers moving or retiring, but may mean in some cases that ministers in "reviewable” charges are given six months’ notice that their contract is ending.

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