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Two thirds of Church of Scotland church buildings in Shetland to close
Only eleven Church of Scotland church buildings will remain operational on Shetland once sweeping changes have come into effect.
Leaders say a clergy shortage and declining attendance means keeping all of their 31 church buildings open is "unaffordable".
They said in a statement: "The Presbytery has a legacy of many more church buildings than they need and has faced some difficult choices on which buildings should be retained and which should be let go.
"At the heart of our decision making is the desire to see a sustainable future for the Church of Scotland, its mission and pastoral care for the whole of Shetland."
The individual buildings set to shut will be named in the coming days, once all affected worshipping communities have been told. It is understood the closures will take place during the next three years.
The closures are among a raft of measures included in a new Presbytery plan endorsed by the majority of the Church of Scotland's 975 members in Shetland.
Shetland, which includes more than 100 islands - 15 of which are inhabited - will be served by just one parish minister, under the plan.
Thirteen local parishes will merge into one, while the Church of Scotland will maintain only a handful of church staff in the region - including a newly-appointed youth worker.
The statement continued: "We will work with our congregations as we move towards a new model of ministry which could result in a single parish and the formation of a new Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland.
"These are both challenging but exciting times in Shetland as we explore a new model of ministry, which may, in future years, provide an example to the national church."
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