St.Ninian’s Church, Bigton

Church buildings have great significance for local communities wherever they are and when closure and sales are planned it brings to the fore heartache and sadness. In Shetland as with many areas in Scotland closure and sales of church buildings are part the Church of Scotland’s  reshaping and re-visioning of church structure and mission.

We have a lot to learn from the Shetland Parish Ministry team and the work of all our Shetland Parishioners who have maintained and preserved the buildings as much as they could. They have implemented a planned programme of phased sales and are now well on their way to selling 20 of its 31 church buildings on Shetland’s Mainland and the Shetland Isles.

This process is made slightly better when a local community group comes forward to purchase a building and wishing to retain it for future community use. This desire has enabled a few community groups in Shetland to do just that and Friends of Fetlar Kirk Charity; St Magnus Hamnavoe, Yell and Baxter Chapel, Foula are all such examples.

The most recent addition is St, Ninian’s Church building at Bigton. This was sold to the Bigton Collective. The collective secured £64,000 from the Scottish Land Fund to help buy the building to turn it into a multipurpose community facility.

The keys to St Ninian’s Church were handed over to the Bigton Collective by the Rev Lynn Brady, Interim Minister. The Shetland Ministry Team were very pleased to be able to sell the church to the Collective and wished them every success in their venture.

Alice Ritch of Bigton Collective said: “We are honoured to be custodians of this beautiful building for the next phase of its life and sincerely hope the building will continue to be a place of inspiration, joy, comfort, music and human connection for us all – and for the next 100 years. Also thank you to the Church of Scotland members who have tended to the building for so many years. We are so grateful to have this opportunity and to live in such a warm, positive and supportive community.”

Rev. Lynn Brady hands over the keys to Alice Ritch