Falkirk’s churches get down to to dealing with budget

Falkirk Old and St Modan's Parish Church may be one of the churches under threat
Falkirk Old and St Modan's Parish Church may be one of the churches under threat
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Plans to cut the number of ministers could lead to church closures, parishioners have been warned.

Falkirk Presbytery is one of the last districts in the country to implement changes imposed by the Church of Scotland’s governing body.

The General Assembly last year backed plans to reduce the number of ministers nationally from 1200 to 1000 to plug a £5.4 million funding gap.

In Falkirk this will mean a loss of six full-time positions, one each from the individual districts which make up the presbytery.

A wide-ranging consultation exercise is currently being undertaken among affected clergy and congregation members.

Presbetery Clerk Rev. Robert Allan said: “The books have to be balanced like everywhere else.

“For many years the church has been paying for services from its reserves - that can’t go on for ever.

“The central church has asked for the number of ministries to be reduced and we are in the process of implementing that change.”

It was revealed last year that if Church of Scotland spending continued at its current rate, its reserves would be exhausted by 2018.

The church stated that it hoped the cuts would be spread fairly across the country.

Falkirk Presbytery currently has 38 full-time members of staff, mostly ministers, but also including a small number of parish workers and deacons.

This number will be reduced to 32 by 2013.

Rev. Dr Jean Gallacher, minister at Dunipace Parish Church, said: “It may be that we have to rely more upon parish volunteers in the future. The question is whether that is sustainable in the longer term.

“There is certainly some fear and trepidation amongst congregations about what the cuts might mean.

“We are not exempt from the pressures that the rest of society faces.

“Closures is a word that has been talked about.

“However it is my hope that we can find a positive way forward. Ministers can be shared between churches, as is the case in some areas already.

“It is widely hoped that buildings may not have to close. That would absolutely be a last resort.”

Dunipace is one of six churches in the Denny and Bonnybridge district.

Like other areas, it likely to see a reduction in the number of ministers.

Rrecommendations will be agreed upon at a local level before being submitted for approval from the Church’s central office.