Merger creates new parish

Orbiston Parish Church will be empty on Sundays
Orbiston Parish Church will be empty on Sundays

TWO of Bellshill’s Church of Scotland congregations are to join to create one parish.

Macdonald Memorial and Orbiston churches are to unite to become Bellshill Central Church, with a unification service being held tomorrow (Thursday) evening.

The two have been linked since 2001, with one minister leading services at both churches - on Main Street and Footfield Road respectively - every Sunday.

The retiral of the Rev Alan McKenzie before Christmas sparked a series of meetings between the congregations about how to move forward.

Stan Cook, session clerk at Macdonald Memorial, explained: “The Rev Alan McKenzie retired in November and various meetings were held over the winter.

“With declining membership, it was decided the first thing was to get the two churches together.

“We will now form a vacancy committee to look at advertising for a new minister for Bellshill Central Church.”

Bellshill once had four Church of Scotland congregations, with Bellshill West and St Andrew’s joining Macdonald Memorial and Orbiston.

However, with one apparently threatened with closure, St Andrew’s opted to rejoin the United Free Church in 2001.

The latest shake-up will see the new Bellshill Central Church located at the Macdonald Memorial base, with the Orbiston church building to remain available for the groups that currently use it.

It is hoped the reorganisation will help attract a permanent minister.

Mr Cook continued: “Although services will take place at Macdonald Memorial, the various groups based at Orbiston will continue to run from that building.

“It was built in the 1960s and is very adaptable, so it is hoped they will get better use out of it now.

“The churches have had a very harmonious relationship over the years and this is a mutual agreement, it’s just time for us to get things moving.”

The service will take place at 7pm in the Macdonald Memorial building, led by the Rev Lindsay Schluter, moderator of Hamilton Presbytery.