Three Dundee kirk congregations are to merge in response to falling numbers of worshippers and ministers retiring.
The congregations at St Luke’s and Queen Street, the Broughty Ferry New Kirk and Broughty Ferry St James are finalising steps to become one congregation.
Reverend Graham Taylor retired from St Luke’s in the summer and Reverend Catherine Collins plans to step down from her role in the New Kirk within the next 12 months. St James is also without a minister.
Reverend James Wilson, Dundee Presbytery Clerk, said: “Those three in particular are looking to see how they can improve themselves, their church and streamline themselves as an organisation.
“The notion of bringing congregations together has been around for a wee while. The congregations there have been speaking about it for at least a year.
“The detail is not a done deal, but there will be in due course one church in Broughty Ferry.”
Papers prepared for the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly last year showed congregations across Scotland were dropping by around 4% a year.
Rev Wilson said the situation in Dundee followed the same national trend.
He said: “It’s almost identical.
“In the 10 years between 2005 and 2015, the Church of Scotland lost a third of its membership. So that’s the background against which we’re all living.”
He said he personally put the changes down to the changing nature of the population in Scotland.
“Although we have not seen a depopulation in Scotland, because of migration in the last 20 years, the population of Scots within Scotland has been falling dramatically,” he said.
“We’re down to under 50,000 births per annum and everything in Scotland is on the back foot.
“We’re maintained through migration and migrants are not likely to be Christian and if they are, they are not likely to be Presbyterian, so we suffer quite badly from deaths and migration.”
The National Records of Scotland figures show 49,863 births were registered in 2019, down 1,445 on the previous year. It is the lowest level since 1855.
“Schools are closing. Fewer kids means there are fewer youth organisations and everything falls in behind that,” he added.
He said the church needed to “change many aspects about how it is run” to make it more accessible to younger worshippers, such as better use of digital technology.
Rev Wilson reflected that, now in his 60s, life has been good to and for him, but the next generation must establish for itself who will shape their philosophy and beliefs.