A swathe of churches earmarked for closure across Shetland has been announced – including a number on remote islands.
The move has sparked concerns that funeral services for people will not be held at the same location as they will be buried – and could include return flights to mainland Shetland.
The plans have come into force in response to dwindlng congregation numbers.
A total of 20 churches will close, including those on Foula, Fetlar, Fair Isle, the Out Skerries and Yell.
It means that 11 Church of Scotland buildings will remain open.
The new plan also intends to merge the isles’ 13 parishes into one, with a new presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland proposed.
Congregations affected, however, will be able to appeal the closure decisions.
There is a hope that some of the churches may be able to remain a community asset, with leases being left as an option.
Shetland assessor minister Reverend Ian Murray said the church had too many buildings on its books in Shetland.
He said: “The presbytery has a legacy of many more church buildings than they need and has faced some difficult choices on which buildings should be retained and which should be let go.
“At the heart of our decision making is the desire to see a sustainable future for the Church of Scotland, its mission and pastoral care for the whole of Shetland.”
He said there were significant difficulties in recruiting ministers for posts in Shetland and across the country, adding: “We are facing a crisis in the church, and we’ve got to trim back.”
Shetland South councillor George Smith, whose constituency includes Fair, Dunrossness, Bigton and Cunningsburgh, said: “Clearly this is disappointing. But it obviously comes down to the number of people going to church.
“The concern is that funeral services will need to take place away from the area the person is from, but they will then have to be buried in the local cemetery they belong to.
“It will have an impact, but parishes will be able to appeal the decision if they wish to.”
Shetland North Councillor Alastair Cooper added:”I think it is disappointing but the harsh reality is that they have not got the footfall going through the doors.
“A lot of these buildings need maintenance, which is costly, and there is a struggle to get ministers.”
The Church of Scotland buildings earmarked for closure are:
Sandness Church, Foula, Tingwall, Bigton St Ninians, Dunrossness, Fair Isle, Fetlar, St Magnus, Yell, Hillswick, Sullom North Mavine, Voe Parish Church, Sand – Sandsting, Weisdale, Cunningsburgh, Quarff, Gulberwick, Bressay, Nesting, Whalsay Church, Skerries
The 11 Church of Scotland buildings that will remain open are:
Aith, Baltasound, Brae, Cullivoe, Burra Isle, Ollaberry, Sandwick, Scalloway, St Columba’s Lerwick, Walls, Whalsay Hall