Too many kirks

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Allan Massie (Perspective, 26 December) commented that the Kirk is withering. Indeed, and it is withering the faster by refusing to scale down its material over-provision.

How can one, with heart-rending charity appeals continually arriving at one’s home through the post, feel morally comfortable as a churchgoer in a town with two kirks, whose congregations could fit comfortably together in either one. Money is being wasted heating empty spaces and elsewhere there are kirks without a minister to serve them.

My ancestor Robert Brooks, a London hansom-cab driver, on Sunday mornings while his fares were still abed, stood, in all weathers, in the humble streets where he lived, bellowing “Repent”. Men out buying their Sunday newspaper probably walked straight past, not interested in what Bible-thumping Robert was “on about”.

However: one or another who had behaved meanly must have had his conscience incised by this basic message from a social equal who was “getting nothing (not a penny) out of it.”

Allan Massie quotes, as though in agreement, an 18th century Deist, the Rev Conyers Middleton: “The simple teaching of Christ [is] a social necessity, which must be inculcated by an established Church.” Into this Social Necessity, Mr Massie slots the Kirk, without presuming to prescribe administrative detail.

I know of one churchgoer who, after an embarrassing ­incident during services, stopped attending, instead receiving Holy Communion twice a year at her home.

On hearing her story, I visited the minister of the other kirk in town and suggested the old lady attend there. He answered: “I can’t pinch another minister’s parishioner.” I would take this as another argument for having just one kirk in each town: to avoid natural human rivalry.

Kathleen S Manning

Callum Court

McVeagh Street

Huntly, Aberdeenshire