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Fate of historic St Mark’s unknown as Church of Scotland to confirm 10 closures in Aberdeen by end of year

St Mark's Church could close in the next five years. Picture by Scott Baxter.
St Mark's Church could close in the next five years. Picture by Scott Baxter.

Aberdeen’s historic St Mark’s Church on Rosemount Viaduct is one of 10 Church of Scotland places of worship earmarked for closure as congregations are to decide which buildings to keep.

The Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland is struggling with limited resources and a lack of ministers to serve its 38 churches across the two areas.

As a result, Church of Scotland has instructed the presbytery to create seven parish groupings in which congregations come together, reducing the number of ministers needed.

This change was proposed in 2021, and since then a mission plan has been in the works to cut down the current demand for ministers.

Aberdeen churches earmarked for closure

  • St Mark’s
  • Bucksburn-Stoneywood
  • Holburn West
  • Kingswells
  • Rubislaw (sanctuary, not Church Centre)
  • Ruthrieston West
  • South St Nicholas Kincorth
  • St George’s Tillydrone
  • St Stephen’s
  • Woodside
Kingswells Church is also earmarked for closure. Picture by Kath Flannery.

Church closures underway elsewhere

The number of churches in Shetland was already reduced from 31 to 11 during a major restructuring in 2018/19. Now Aberdeen might have to suffer the same fate and cut numbers from 27 to 17.

Church of Scotland has said that by bringing congregations together and closing churches, it can continue to grow and evolve, as the number of ministers needed to run churches across Aberdeen and Shetland under the new mission plan will be reduced from 38 to 28.

Presbytery clerk, Rev John Ferguson said: “We know these changes will be challenging for all of us.

“However, given that presbytery has already begun implementing its suspended 2020 plan, we believe that we are in a strong position to continue to cope with change and restructuring.

“This is an opportunity to refocus our efforts and prepare for ministry in the years ahead and we are confident that in this plan we offer a considered, effective and robust structure for ministry”.

A similar process has also begun in Gordon in Aberdeenshire. 

Woodside Church may close in the next five years. Picture by Scott Baxter.

What do you think?

The Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland, the Faith Nurture Forum and general trustees have until the final day of 2022 to finalise their mission plan, which will then play out over the next five years.

Those affected by the proposed changes are being urged to come forward with their opinions as the mission plan is still subject to amendment.

Eunice McConnach, convenor of the presbytery’s planning and development committee, explains that the new plan has already kicked into action in Aberdeen.

“The Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland is committed to the ‘parish groupings’ suggested previously where congregations are encouraged to work together and, in some cases, to form unions during the next five years,” she said.

“Some groupings are already up and running and working towards the aims of the revised plan.”

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