Comment: No winners in shake-up facing Fife's churches

Over 50 churches and halls could face closureOver 50 churches and halls could face closure
Over 50 churches and halls could face closure
Church congregations across Fife are facing some extremely difficult decisions.

The potential closure of over 50 Church of Scotland churches and halls is the biggest shake up of places of worship the Kingdom has seen for generations.

It will lead to the loss of some historic churches, many of which sit at the heart of the communities.

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Dwindling congregations, rising costs and a shortage of ministers, means this day has been coming since the General Assembly’s decision to review its portfolio last year.

And, no matter the outcome, there will be no winners in this profound, far-reaching shake-up.

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Managing change on this scale is going to be a huge challenge for ministers, church elders and congregations..

There is also the question of what the church does with the buildings it no longer wants or can afford to continue using.

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Many are listed, so demolition or wholescale refurbishment could well be out of the question - and they have a duty to maintain the buildings.

Unlike businesses which can lock the doors and walk away, leaving places to stagnate, the church has to find new, alternative uses for its surplus buildings.

There is much to chew over in this draft Mission plan, and a lot of work, soul searching and talking yet to be done.

The final plan must be agreed by Fife Presbytery, the Faith Nurture Forum and the General Trustees by December 31. The clock is ticking.

This town has already seen how painful and difficult mergers can be.

Permanent closures will be even tougher.