Church sells off missionaries' college in bid to save money

A 100-YEAR-OLD college which trained hundreds of Church of Scotland missionaries is set to be sold for up to £5 million as part of the Kirk's latest cost-cutting programme.

St Colm's College in Edinburgh's Inverleith Terrace will shut in August after the church decided it could no longer afford to maintain it.

The Rev Colin Renwick, convener of the Kirk's world mission council, will tell the General Assembly tomorrow that the decision to close St Colm's was reached "with great sadness", but he will say it would have cost more than 400,000 to maintain the premises over the next few years and a further 700,000 to upgrade it.

Since 1998, the college has been known as St Colm's International House, housing the Scottish Churches World Exchange (SCWE) programme of international volunteer work and providing accommodation to students from the developing world.

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Now SCWE, which has sent 600 volunteers to developing countries since it started in 1992, will be wound up and the building put on the market.

It is understood other options were considered, including leasing the property rather than selling it or working with Edinburgh University to use it as an international student residence.

A valuation suggests the Kirk could expect to raise between 3m and 5m from the sale.

The Rev Bobby Anderson, director of SCWE, said: "St Colm's has been a tremendous resource for us.

"It has enabled us to receive people as well as send people. The 150 multi-national student residents who have lived here during our time have been a fantastic community, supporting one another, building alliances which will last them a lifetime.

"Any surplus we have generated from activities at St Colm's was ploughed straight back into the building or the volunteer programme."

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