Shetland Church of Scotland

Church Building Sales in Shetland

In October 2018, the Presbytery of Shetland voted to unite all 13 parishes into one Parish, now known as Shetland Church of Scotland, and to unite with the Presbytery of Aberdeen. As part of this process of change, the church had to admit with sadness that it could not sustain 31 buildings. The former Presbytery of Shetland made the painful decision to close 20 of these buildings, leaving Shetland congregations with 11 to manage.

The General Trustees from the Church of Scotland and the ministry team in Shetland have been working away to ensure that the building sales are progressing as per the Presbytery plan. Several sales have now been completed and other buildings are on offer.

Phase 2, started in 2021 and the General Trustees have been working closely with the community of Foula, with the result that the Baxter Chapel has been sold to a community group.

The Church of Scotland is also divesting itself of the church buildings at Hillswick, Sandness, Voe, and Cunningsburgh. Hillswick’s closing date has passed. Cunningsburgh Church has a closing date in early October. Sandness Church has just gone on the market and Voe Church is currently being prepared to go on the market.

Church of Scotland Baxter Chapel Foula

Phase 3 begins in 2022 and involves the Churches at Lunna, Tingwall, Whalsay (Brough), Out Skerries, Dunrossness, and Gulberwick.

Interim Minister Rev Lynn Brady who has been working with a focus on property sales, expressed her heartfelt thanks to everyone who has looked after these buildings and recognised the ‘great sense of loss when a building you have emotionally invested in is being sold’. She said, ‘These buildings are being sold so that we can focus on the mission that God has called us to be part of at this time.’
Phase 1, started in 2020, and is nearing completion. The sales of the churches at Sullom, Quarff, Sand, Bressay, and Weisdale are now complete. The community group Friends of Fetlar Kirk successfully bid for Fetlar Church, and the property is currently under offer. The General Trustees are in negotiations with the Yell community group over the St Magnus church building in Yell. The Church of Scotland has also been working with community groups at Bigton and Fair Isle.

Fetlar Church

Hillswick Church

The Rev. Dr. Fran Henderson, Transition Minister for Shetland said, “We are always glad to work with any community group which might be interested in purchasing one of our buildings and are really pleased that this is working out for several such groups. Any such community group has to register as a business or charity, conduct community surveys, and draw up a business plan. This can be a long and complex process, so if a community is interested, then I urge them to get started immediately. They should also get in touch with us as soon as possible, and not wait until the building is about to go on the market.”

Shetland Map with Phases 1-3 highlighted

Rev. Lynn Brady

Rev. Dr. Fran Henderson

Rev. Irene Charlton’s church in Whalsay

Our thanks and prayers go to Fran Henderson, Lynn Brady and Irene Charlton Parish Minister and all the Ministry Team in Shetland who are working very hard to bring about these changes to ministry and mission. The expertise they are gaining in this field will be valuable to Presbyters and congregations who will need to think about building closures and sales.