Worship hub to shut as centre hours cut

The Rev Elspeth McKay with church members Margaret Robinson, Jean Stewart, Anne Morrison, Annette Campbell, Dorothy Roberts and Alex Edwardson - pic: Church of Scotland
The Rev Elspeth McKay with church members Margaret Robinson, Jean Stewart, Anne Morrison, Annette Campbell, Dorothy Roberts and Alex Edwardson - pic: Church of Scotland

A ‘lifeline’ church in Balloch is being forced to close down due to local authority budget cuts.

Cumbernauld Old Parish Church has operated a Sunday worship hub at the Forge Community Centre in Balloch for 31-years, but it will hold its last service on September 30..

The Rev Elspeth McKay hit out at the decision taken by Culture NL to only rent the community centre on weekdays during the school term to save money on caretaker staffing costs.

Around 40 people regularly attend the 11.45am service at the Forge Community Centre, which Culture NL describes on its website as one of the region’s busiest.

The Rev McKay says the decision has left worshippers ‘shocked’ and ‘devastated’.

She said: “The weekly service at The Forge fulfils the spiritual needs of many people in the congregation and the community.

“We are all truly devastated by the decision to deny us access to a building, the only Church of Scotland in the parish north of the M80 motorway which is a big barrier for people.

“Services have been taking place there for many decades and we have a very faithful and committed group of people attending.

“Families have had long attachments to The Forge services - children have been baptised there and many milestones have been celebrated.

“For many in the congregation and the community, Sunday morning worship at the Forge is a way of life, if not a lifeline.”

The community centre is also the venue for meetings of the Brownies, Boys’ Brigade and Ladies Circle, all organisations affiliated to Cumbernauld Old Parish Church.

Culture NL stated the church were first notified of the situation in March and have been offered alternative premises elsewhere in the town.

However, the Rev McKay believes it is essential that people, especially older people, have a place to worship within walking distance of their homes.

She added: “The offer of alternative facilities at The Muirfield Community Centre or the New Town Hall - which are not even in the parish - is not an option.

“It is a hopeless situation and I cannot for the life of me understand why the council doesn’t just give us a key so we can continue to use the centre for an hour on Sundays.

“That would be a good, common sense solution.”