Last night two of the churches in Bridge of Allan ceased to exist. Chalmers Church and Holy Trinity Church are no more. They came together in a Service of Union in the building formerly used as Holy Trinity yesterday evening – a service which I was surprised not to be invited to. Union seems to be a euphemism in the Church of Scotland. Already there is a new notice outside the building proclaiming it as Bridge of Allan Parish Church.
In my own denomination, there are not many churches which face union, nor even new linkages. Indeed, recently, o­ne linkage in the diocese was broken and the congregations allowed to go their own way. If we really are committed to varieties of ministry, then there should be few reasons for any congregation to close down beyond all the people dying off. Locally, the Church of Scotland's woes all seem to me to be down to the prevalent belief that ministry is something that lay people have done to them. This is even more unsustainable now than it was in the past. Some think that religious institutions which perpetuate this deserve to die anyway and I'm not unsymphathetic to this view. Whether it is held to a greater degree by lay folk or ministers in the Church of Scotland is not something that I have been able to work out yet.

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