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'Heavy hearts' as final services announced for Black Isle church


By Neil MacPhail

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Knockbain Church, Munlochy.
Knockbain Church, Munlochy.

A Black Isle congregation is with "heavy hearts" preparing for services that will mark the closure of their church as a place of worship.

Knockbain Church of Scotland in Munlochy is one of the latest victims of the Kirk's Mission Plan which involves cost cutting by selling off many of their properties.

The sadness of the situation is clear from the following message posted on social media by Knockbain Church.

"Though the Kirk Session, minister and congregations' hearts ache at this position, we recognise the reality that the building has become too big for us to maintain.

"We also recognise the church building has been a point of gathering for important life events in the life and witness of many in the Knockbain parish, and beyond.

"We mourn the loss of the special place as we're sure you will."

As part of the process of putting the church building up for sale, it will be closed as a place of worship.

The final Sunday service will be on 24 September at 11.30am when worshippers will be joined by their former minister, the Rev Iain Ramsden. The service will be following with a light lunch.

Then on Thursday 28 September at 7pm, the Presbytery of Ross will conduct a formal service of closure, with teas and coffees served afterwards.

All are welcome at either or both of these services which will have special collections to support the Community Sharing Sheds in Munlochy and North Kessock.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said when the closure of Knockbain and its sister church Killearnan was revealed earlier this year: "In this region, the plan provides for three reconfigured charges centred around Muir of Ord, Culbokie (Resolis and Urquhart) and Fortrose-Rosemarkie.

"We recognise that church buildings have meaning and value to their local communities, so we know that some of these decisions will be difficult. However, the mission plans take into consideration what is best for the whole of the Presbytery area, enabling local churches to work together effectively and efficiently.

""The Presbytery of Ross recognise that the impact of the plan, given the scale of change needed, is difficult for the congregations that are most affected. However, there has been a long and detailed consultation process in line with the Church of Scotland guidelines over three-and-a-half years."

Knockbain and Killearnan worshippers will need to travel to Muir of Ord following the closures of their churches.

Online comment included one from Moira Adam who simply said "Shocking."

Julie Mightens pointed out however: "Unfortunately it wasn’t a place for the gathering of an important life event, such as a funeral for a born and bred local in March 2021."

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