North-east churchgoers who have gone almost a year without a place of worship to call their own have been heartened by the creation of a new parish.
Middlefield Parish Church, which closed last June, and High Church Hilton have united under the name of High Hilton.
The newly-formed kirk, at the former High Church in Hilton Drive to the north of Aberdeen, will serve around 13,000 people – including residents some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland.
But celebrations are on hold, given the Church of Scotland-wide suspension of services due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Moderator of the Presbytery of Aberdeen, Hutton Steel, who will serve as minister of the new kirk, said: “Under more normal circumstances there would have been a joyful service of union to mark the two congregations becoming one.
“Unfortunately, that service will have to take place after the current restrictions on gatherings are lifted.
“However, we had a brief yet prayerful meeting to ratify the union – with many people attending by video conference.
“This allows us to move forward as a single church for the Hilton and Middlefield areas of the city.”
Church elders are working to find ways of keeping in touch with members of the congregation during the viral outbreak.
Former session clerk at Middlefield, Linda Forbes, added: “It was hard to see Middlefield Church close in June last year.
“Today though, I’m encouraged that the new charge will see the work of the church in Middlefield continue, and even grow, with a bigger team of elders and volunteers to bring support and service to the communities of the new parish through the word of God.”
Everyone who was a member of either church is automatically a member of the new charge and services will open to all once they restart after the current restriction is lifted.
The Presbytery Church also reassured the residents of Aberdeen that work was continuing to find ways of keeping in touch with members of the congregation during these uncertain times.