Church of Scotland moves out of historic Cumbrian home to join up with Methodists

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Sad time: Rev David Pitkeathly in the Church of Scotland in Longtown which is closing after almost two centuries
Sad time: Rev David Pitkeathly in the Church of Scotland in Longtown which is closing after almost two centuries

A church which has had its own Longtown base for almost two centuries is giving up its building.

The Church of Scotland is preparing to hold its final Sunday service in its current home, where it has been based for decades.

Instead, it is joining forces with the town’s Methodist church, to share that building and strengthen their existing partnership.

The Rev David Pitkeathly told The Cumberland News that a decision was taken about 10 years ago that the church would need to find a new location.

He was keen to stress that while it is moving out of its home, it is not the end of the church.

Mr Pitkeathly said: “It’s a sad time in a sense, because people are saying goodbye to a building that they have loved and looked after.

“They’ve had family baptisms and weddings and all sorts of special occasions in that building, and it’s come to an end.

“There is a positive side to this,” he continued. “We have got a wonderful sense of togetherness with our friends at the Methodist church in town, and we are going to be taking our services and worshipping within their building.

“There has been a Church of Scotland presence in Longtown, so I’m told, for 180 years.

“This was a decision taken by the Presbytery in 2006: it was suggested it would be necessary, because the building had got to a point where we need to make a fresh start somewhere else.”

Had it not been for the partnership with the methodists, he admitted it might have been difficult for the congregation to continue.

Thankfully though, that is a worry he needs no longer to have.

“We meet twice a month at the moment,” Mr Pitkeathly explained, “and we will continue to do so.

“The first Sunday of the month will be a joint service with the methodists. Then on the third Sunday of the month, we will meet at 9.30am until about 10.15am.

“Afterwards there will be joint refreshments, as the methodists have generously pushed back their service from 10.30am to 10.45am to accommodate us.”

The two churches have been working together for a number of years, already holding at least one joint service a month.

The final Sunday service in the existing building will take place on December 18. There will also then be a Christmas eve service at 6.30pm, for all the family at the current church.

It is planned to have an official farewell service at the building – complete with social occasion. A service marking the partnership with the Methodist Church will take place in a few months, when a legally-binding partnership agreement will be signed.

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