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Ardchattan Church could shut by January as a result of its straitened financial circumstances.
The Church of Scotland has confirmed the church on the shores of Loch Etive is under review as part of Argyll’s presbytery plan, which also involves the future of a number of other buildings.
Although a spokesperson for the Church of Scotland said no final decision had been made, the expectation among the congregation is that it will shut in the new year.
‘The bottom line is it’s because of lack of funds. It is circumstances that are forcing this on us. It will be a very sad day to see it go for many, including me,’ said John Campbell, who is a community councillor and a member of Ardchattan kirk’s congregational board.
Mr Campbell, who said he was expressing his own opinion rather than the board’s or the Church of Scotland, added: ‘It was the church where I was christened and grew up. I hope if it was sold it could somehow still be kept as a public building.
‘There are people in the community who would still like to have their funerals there, me included. Perhaps it could become a theatre or something like that rather than being sold for flats.’
The cemetery is run by Argyll and Bute Council and not by the church, so it would not be affected.
However, there are two war memorials that would need to be relocated, he added.
It is understood that Ardchattan’s partner church, St Modan’s in Benderloch, will stay open.
A Church of Scotland spokesperson told The Oban Times every congregation in the Argyll presbytery had been asked to prepare a mission plan for the future of their church and from that a review will look at which buildings would be required.
‘We are prioritising all congregations that do not have a minister and, since Ardchattan is vacant, it is currently under review.
‘The Ardchattan Kirk Session has asked Argyll presbytery for permission to sell Ardchattan Church and their request is currently under consideration. The Kirk Session has decided that the congregation’s other building, St Modan’s Church in Benderloch, would best serve their long-term vision and needs,’ added the spokesperson.
Ardchattan kirk, built in 1836, serves the communities of Benderloch, Bonawe, Barcaldine, North Connel and surrounding areas.