TRINITY Parish Church could close within five years, unless townsfolk give more regular support.
The Rev. Michael Scouler issued the stark warning that parishioners must “use it, or lose it”, as the town centre church battles an annual deficit of £15,000. And making a comparison with the demise of big-name companies such as Comet and HMV, the local minister claims that the church across Scotland is “lurching toward implosion”.
“Put simply, Scotland’s population has moved elsewhere, out of the pews to be precise. Our local churches are not immune,” he writes in this month’s newsletter.
Membership at Trinty currently sits at 769, yet only around half give financially or attend regularly.
And at Cavers and Kirkton, with which Trinity is linked, only approximately 20 to 25 from than 100 members worship each week.
But according to Rev. Scouler, the church’s financial problems could be solved if every single member paid an extra 50p a week.
He stressed: “Equally, theoretically, if the giving remains the same, then Trinity may be closed inside five years.”
But the minister has firmly asserted that the warning is not about appealing for money.
To the contrary, Rev Scouler is urging townsfolk to consider if they really want their church – stressing that Cavers and Kirkton would easily be sustained if it was always as popular as on Christmas Eve.
“People tend to value a building that is woven into their lives”, he explains. “Sentiment alone does not sustain - commitment almost always does.”
He told the Hawick News: “This is not an appeal for money, but a plea for people to come along and support the church, to play a part if they are not already, in shaping its future, with initiatives, talents and energy as yet maybe largely untapped. We do a lot as a church but with more people we could do more still, perhaps in ways we haven’t yet been challenged by.”
He added: “It is a matter for all the members of our churches to reflect on.”
And further alluding to the wider problem, Rev. Scouler added: “Financial appeals can slow decline but only people can inject life into a church. Whatever else may be claimed, how our churches, indeed all the churches in Hawick, and across Scotland, move into the future, will be decided by the people from the pews.”
He concluded: “The future of our churches is in the hands now of all who profess any care for them – use it, or lose it.”
Trinity Church was erected in 1843 for the old East Bank United free congregation to replace its earlier meeting-house nearby. In 1959, a union of the three churches of St Andrew’s, St John’s and East Bank saw the triple congregation renamed Trinity Church.