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Church of Scotland to dispose of “between 25 and 50%” of stock

June 14 2005

Heritage specialists believe that The Church of Scotland are planning to sell between 25 and 50% of its current building stock. “Nearly every community in Scotland will be affected by the next wave of sales that The Church of Scotland is now looking at,” said Victoria Collison-Owen, Director of the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust.

In a speech to the General Synod last month, Reverend David Clark laid the recommendations of the Committee of the Parish Appraisal, which he chairs, before the church\'s governing body. “What these proposals ask the church to do is to prioritise the places of worship which we deem important for the future and to concentrate increasingly scarce resources upon them. The converse of that, of course, is a number of buildings which…. we can do without,” said Reverend Clark.

Because of the structure of the church, with each presbytery taking charge of its own affairs, a piecemeal approach has hitherto been taken in maintaining the church’s built infrastructure. However a strategy co-ordinated by the General Trustees will now be imposed. Church legislation is being changed in order to ensure that individual presbyteries state clearly in their Presbytery Plans the status of every building in their care. According to a recent Joint Report of the Committee on Duplicated Property Resources, if a local Presbytery is unable to come a decision, “the General Trustees shall be empowered to do so”.

Many buildings will find good uses as a large amount of the excess stock is in urban settings although in rural aeas the situation will be different.“The church though is treading a difficult path between looking after their flock and caring for a building. What they do with a pre-Reformation church in a rural community which has no congregation is a different matter. Trusts like ourselves have limited resources. Whatever happens architects are going to find themselves with many more church conversions over the next decade,” said Collison-Owen.

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