Long-standing Edinburgh church set to close as members informed of sad decision

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A long-standing Edinburgh church is set to be put up for sale, after serving the local community for over 140 years.

Session Clerk at St Michael's Parish Church on Slateford Road, Douglas Bannatyne, made an emotional statement to attendees on Sunday and said the congregation is to "be disposed of."

As the Edinburgh Reporter writes, the Kirk serves the community of Gorgie and Slateford - recently celebrating 140 years of doing so. However, the building is to be put up for sale by the end of 2026.

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Alongside Mr Bannatyne, Reverent Andrea Price also addressed the parish and was visibly moved by the sad news. The service and subsequent announcement was filmed and uploaded to YouTube.

Delivering the news, Mr Bannatyne said: “Following the visit to all kirk sessions from the deployment team, they prepared a report and presented it to the full deployment committee of the Presbytery who then considered and then decided to uphold the recommendation of the general trustees which proposed the disposal of St Michael’s.

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“The theme of last week’s general assembly was ‘Building Together’ and we must remember, as individuals, we are and we make St Michael’s Parish Church, and together we must hold each other in prayer and journey together, moving forward together in faith.”

Reverend Price told the congregation that St Michael's will now decide internally whether to 'protest or accept' the decision with the Presbytery planning committee ruling that a merged congregation will bring together those from St Michael's, Barclay Viewforth, Craiglockhart and Polwarth with the Slateford Road building the only one to close.

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She said: “I am sorry that we have not managed over my time here to raise more people, and more younger people, to be part of St Michael’s but this is the case in most churches these days.

“Looking at the future realisticially, there are just not enough young people committing to church life to keep all congregations and all buildings going. We’ve run out of sufficient ministers, and now we are running out of people, younger people.”

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said: “The Presbytery of Edinburgh and West Lothian mission plan proposes that Barclay Viewforth, Craiglockhart, Polwarth and St Michaels' congregations merge as a single parish and will be served by a team ministry of two full-time Ministers of Word and Sacrament and one Ordained Local Minister.

“These four congregations already work well together to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and will move towards a union as soon as practical, journeying forward together in faith and fulfilling God’s commandment to love your neighbour as yourself.

“The Polwarth and St Michael’s buildings are very close to each other geographically with the former being a flexible space on the canalside, with a part-owned boat which is well used for mission outreach activities.

“After much prayerful consideration and extensive consultation, the Presbytery’s deployment committee supported a recommendation from the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland to release the St Michael’s building by December 2026.

“The deployment committee will present this proposal to a full meeting of Presbytery on 18 June for its consideration.

“Discussions will continue in the years ahead about the future long-term status of the other three buildings as we discern God’s will for His Church.”