Forfar East and Old and St Margarets set free !
Two major churches in Forfar were set free with a decision given by Angus Presbytery yesterday evening to abandon all further moves to unite the two congregations. East and Old Church Forfar responded with a very positive statement for the future, embracing the challenge of change and modernisation. This statement is yet to be detailed to the congregation and until it is clear how the office bearers intend to overcome the steady decline in membership, the loss of revenue, the year on year deficit in funds needed to run the church and the complete modernisation of the image of the church then members may not support the office bearers sufficiently to survive.
St Margarets response was somewhat bitter to say the least. This is understandable when details of the long wait and the protracted negotiations emerged. I’m not sure that the comments made were altogether within the spirit of the christian ethos but at the end of a long road tethers are a little threadbare !
Both organisations currently run an annual deficit in the order of some £10,000.00 The reserves of both churches are generally restricted in what they can be used for since many are bequests and therefore the amount of funding available to cover these deficits must be very limited. Unless a remarkable turnaround is achieved then the future of both these buildings remains in some doubt.
Negotiations for merger have been going on now for nearly 13 years in Forfar. It is a very sad state of affairs when two sets of office bearers cannot agree a sensible way forward for the churches in Forfar. It is even more sad that the congregations involved seem to have been so “attached” to a materialistic thing like a building or set of buildings, and have chosen to ignore the realities around them. Any one of the two sets of buildings involved could have potentially been released for redevelopment. It may even have been possible for the congregations involved to be part of this and to develop one of the buildings into affordable housing for example to help struggling young people get onto the property market, a profit for the church may even have been made. It is possible that this may happen in the future, but I fear it will be a long time before either party feel like talking together about these issues.
As they say, time will tell.