Scottish village left devastated after country's oldest church ends Mass after 900 years: 'Common sense is not prevailing!'

Scottish village left devastated after country's oldest church ends Mass after 900 years: 'Common sense is not prevailing!'

There was a 100-strong congregation at the church’s final Sunday service

WikiCommons
George Bunn

By George Bunn


Published: 21/11/2023

- 10:58

Defiant parishioners flocked to the pews for the final service

The Church of Scotland has been criticised after closing the country’s oldest church.

Birnie Kirk in Elgin, Moray held its final service at the weekend after a near 900 year run.


More than 100 parishioners packed into the pews on Sunday for the final service.

The church would usually only see 20 people in for the services.

It is believed the church dates back to 1140

WikiCommons

It comes as church officials seek to balance the books amid falling congregations and rising running costs.

However, the decision to close the church has upset elderly parishioners, who will have to worship at Elgin parish church meaning a 20-mile round trip for some.

Gil Garrow, 68, said: "They are breaking up a community, a family, where people look out for each other’s needs.

"This is our spiritual home and when we joined the Kirk we never thought it wouldn’t be there for us.

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The Church of Scotland was criticised for its decision

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“The more people that know what the Church of Scotland is up to, the better. It’s like we’re a forgotten entity. It shows how ruthless they are.

"I know we’re not the only ones suffering but there’s so much history attached to the church, it’s in great condition. Surely to goodness they can keep it open. Common sense is not prevailing."

It is believed the church dates back to 1140, with archaeologists have finding evidence to suggest Birnie Kirk was a centre of Roman power and an important pre-Christian settlement inhabited by the pagan Picts.

A spokesperson from Church of Scotland said: “While Sunday’s service was the last regular weekly service which will take place at Birnie Church, the building will continue to be maintained by the kirk session pending its release.

“This will allow for the possibility of occasional use, such as for funerals or weddings.

"There is also an opportunity to organise worship in the Birnie Kirk hall as part of the agreed basis of union.“

"However, Birnie Church is still on schedule to be released from Church of Scotland ownership by the end of August 2027."

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