Members of a congregation in Larbert have been left devastated after hearing their historic church is to close.
Parishioners from the town’s Old Parish are angry after Church of Scotland arbiters took the decision that will now see them join with Larbert West as a new congregation.
The arbitration involved both churches putting forward a case to stay open and the independent arbiters assessing both arguments thoroughly before choosing Larbert West in Main Street as the new place of worship.
The rejected 196-year-old ornate building was designed by celebrated architect David Hamilton and the site where the building stands in Denny Road has a religious link back to the early 12th century, which parishioners say will be wiped out.
Members of the Old congregation argue the West church doesn’t have the suitable facilities to handle the
extra people at services.
There is also concern that the building will be sold to a private concern as there could be difficulties finding a sustainable use for it once the doors close on August 1 when the two churches officially merge.
One member said: “We have nothing against Larbert West but it simply does not have the facilities this church has so we can’t understand why Larbert Old was chosen to close. It defies logic.
“This church has history going back centuries. It is a gorgeous building that will be lost to the public.”
Historic Scotland also backed the Larbert Old congregation’s case to keep the church open by sending a letter of support to the Church of Scotland and said it will work with the Church to find future uses for the building.
Presbytery Clerk for Falkirk, the Rev. Robert Allan, said the new kirk will decide what happens to the Larbert Old building.
He said: “Losing Larbert Old has been like a bereavement for many members.
“There were various processes towards the union of the churches with one being where the place of worship would be. Independent arbiters were appointed by central office. They did very thorough work before the process started and Larbert West was chosen.
‘‘Everything, like parking and facilities, was taken into consideration in arbitration.”