The Church of Scotland will be forced to close hundreds of churches in the coming years as it loses parishioners, ministers and donations.
The church has lost more than half its members since the start of the century, and more than 80% since the 1950s.
That’s according to a trustees report prepared in advance of this week’s General Assembly.
The membership in 2021 was just over 283,000, but it seems only a third of them actually attend services.
It’s estimated 60,000 worship in person and 45,000 online.
The Christian Post reports their average age is 62 and rapidly rising.
Most ministers are over 50 and set to retire in the next few years.
“This is no fault of one group of people or any decision-making body, but a trend that has not been reversed. We have lost members and Ministers of Word and Sacrament, but not adjusted the number of charges,” the report said.
“One in three charges are in vacancy whilst across Scotland the size of almost every congregation is shrinking. Ministers are retiring and people are not coming forward (as has been the case for years) in the numbers needed to replace them. The good news of Jesus Christ, whilst being shared amongst some is not reaching the majority of the people of Scotland,” it continued.
Church convener Reverend David Cameron said that the report on membership decline “provides a realistic picture of where our Church finds itself. This is a critical time as we make the essential changes needed to lay a sustainable foundation for the future. The reforms we embark on together are to reconfigure and reshape the church for mission and service around fewer buildings and fewer charges.”
The convener asserted that Church members needed to be “enthusiastic about doing things differently” and “dreaming bold dreams and having the energy and encouragement to experiment and learn in the process.”
The Christian Post explains that the Church of Scotland is theologically Presbyterian and has been the national church of Scotland since 1690.
It is not controlled by the UK government nor by the Scottish Parliament.