Church of Scotland ‘struggling to stay alive’

KIRK membership has dropped by almost 50,000 in the past three years, more than 320 a week, according to new figures.

The Church of Scotland 2013 General Assembly. Picture: Jane Barlow

The statistics, due to come before the Church’s General Assembly next month, have led to claims that it the Church of Scotland is “struggling to stay relevant”.

Issues such as ordination of gay ministers and a row over same-sex marriage have been blamed in part for members of congregations departing, though the Kirk has said that both demographic and societal changes were more significant drivers than any single issue.

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The Legal Questions Committee report states that there were 398,389 members as of December 31 last year, down from 445646 in 2010.

Gary Otten, founder of the Scottish Secular Society, said: “The Church of Scotland is disengaging itself from society at large.

“Look at same-sex marriage; most people feel it is perfectly ok for two men and two woman to marry and the Church is struggling with this.

“The Church is struggling to stay relevant and alive.”

But a spokesman for the Kirk insisted that it remained one of the largest member organisation in the country and “cares about the values people live by and the conditions they live in.”