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New Partnerships

Jackie Macadam learns about the successes and hurdles faced by uniting or linking parishes.

CHURCHES hold a very special place in the hearts of those who attend. From that little corner where the sun hits the stained glass just right during the sermon, or it’s the place where you were married or where you laid your mother to rest.

Churches are bound up with personal memories, and that’s why it can cause such grief when the decision is made to close a church as congregations are united. Linking congregations can seem like a less severe option, where churches are retained and the minister travels between the congregations, often holding more than one sermon each Sunday.

The Rev John Orr has experienced both. He’s minister for The Glens and Kirriemuir United Parish Church, linked with Oathlaw, Tannadice.

He’s based in rural Angus, where small villages and market towns are a few miles from each other.

“For a bit of background. Kirriemuir: St Andrew’s (linked with Oathlaw Tannadice) and The Glens and Kirriemuir Old were both part of the West Angus Area Ministry (WAAM) parish grouping (and part of the Hub-Style Ministry Pilot Project) and so already had a degree of collaboration in place. When the minister of GKOPC retired in 2017, GKOPC opted to go into Guardianship, with me (minister of KStA) as Interim Moderator. This was done, primarily, to ensure we had a continuing post for our area team minister, the Rev Linda Stevens, who works across the entirety of WAAM, as our Presbytery ministry allocation was to reduce to four posts.

“As part of the union, Oathlaw Tannadice agreed to link with the new united congregation.”

With an aging and sometimes dwindling congregation, sometimes uniting is a better option than dying slowly.

“Our union was prompted by the growing reality that (both) congregations were struggling to find the resources to do existing and new work. Coming together was an opportunity to pool resources (both people and financial) and find new ways to invigorate the church’s presence in the town. For the smaller congregation (KStA), it made sense to do this sooner rather than later so that the dwindling financial resources simply didn’t go towards supporting (and extending) the obvious decline,” John says.

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