ATTEMPTS by Church of Scotland congregations in the Three Towns and Garnock Valley to save their buildings from closure have failed.

A 'mission planning review group' has rejected appeals against planned closures from congregations across the area.

Three church buildings in the Three Towns, and two in the Garnock Valley, will now close, with the congregations uniting with others.

Last August the Herald revealed Church of Scotland proposals to shut Saltcoats North, St Cuthbert's and Stevenston High Kirk by December 2023 - following Ardeer, where the congregation is due to be dissolved later this year.

The plans also included the closure of the Auld Kirk in Kilbirnie by the end of this year - and of St Margaret's in Dalry by December 2025.

Each congregation was given the opportunity to appeal - and four of the five did so, with Saltcoats North the only one to accept the decision.

However, the Herald can now confirm that all of the appeals have been rejected by a Presbytery panel, and that all the buildings listed for closure will indeed shut by the dates originally proposed.

A 'mission plan' for the area will see Church of Scotland congregations in the former Ardrossan Presbytery area unite with five other presbyteries to create the new Presbytery of South West Scotland.

The Kirk says a steady fall in the number of worshippers has led to a "surplus of buildings" across the area, and throughout Scotland, and to the need to consider uniting several congregations.

Last year, ‘asset management building audits’ (AMBAs) were carried out on each church of the presbytery, with the findings of each audit used to decide which buildings would close.

There is no right of further appeal following the rejection of the congregations' attempts to save their buildings.

The Church of Scotland's Presbytery Mission Plan Act states: "The panel’s decision on a request for review, however determined, shall be final and there shall be no right of appeal against a decision of the Panel."

It means that a 'Stevenston Parish Church' will be formed in the town's only remaining Church of Scotland building - Livingstone Church.

One minister, to be voted on by members of the united congregation, will lead this parish.

A team of two ministers will operate in the 'Saltcoats and Ardrossan Parish Churches', based at Kirkgate in Saltcoats and Park Church in Ardrossan.


In Kilbirnie, worshippers from the Auld Kirk will unite with those at St Columba's Church, with the single congregation to be led by one minister.

When St Margaret's in Dalry closes by December 2025, worshippers there will join those at Dalry Trinity Church, again led by a single minister.


One member of Kilbirnie Auld Kirk voiced their anger at the Church of Scotland's position that "history and heritage are not considered to be material factors in the decision".

And worshippers from Stevenston High Kirk have said that the church "defines the town".

One member of the High Kirk congregation added: "I really can’t understand why the main parish church of the town should be the target for closure.

"What with it having all the history and the burial grounds below the church, surely nothing can be built on this ground or the building taken down or re-used."