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Early blessing for revamped kirk

John Wilson, convener of the church's development committee.
John Wilson, convener of the church's development committee.

Parishioners had a glimpse of the future yesterday with the unveiling of ambitious plans to transform their Highland church.

“Inverallan 20/20” aims to bring Grantown’s Church of Scotland building in Church Avenue into the 21st century and allow better use of the place.

The initiative follows a series of congregational meetings that identified a wish-list of objectives for the 130-year-old building.

There was said to have been a positive response to draft plans showcased at the church yesterday for the first time.

The design work will now be on display from Wednesday to Friday this week between 10am and noon, and 3pm to 7pm, and on Saturday from 10am to noon.

Minister, Rev Gordon Strang, is thrilled – and “daunted” – by the scale of the project.

He said: “We’ve got quite a mountain to climb, but having a vision of what the place could look like and what we could use it for is the key first step, it’s very exciting.”

When the then Countess of Seafield built the church and gave it to the community in 1886, religious observance was markedly different to what happens today.

It was built to accommodate up to 600 worshippers. Attendances diminished somewhat during the late 20th century. Today, the number on Sunday is just below 100 and the style of worship rather less formal.

The congregation believes that, while the church is principally a place of worship, it should also be available for a much wider variety of uses and become more of an asset to the whole community.

The design is intended to reflect modern needs, making it more versatile, open and welcoming.

The next step will be to secure funding. The anticipated cost is somewhere between £800,000 and £1million.

Church members have been invited to donate or pledge sums towards the planned work, and “a good number of people” have already made contributions.

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