It was meant to be a year of double delight for Angus.
Instead, 2020 has brought tears for souvenirs of the 800th anniversary of Brechin’s oldest building.
In a sad irony, while plans are going great guns to mark 700 years since the Declaration of Arbroath departed the fit o’ the toon for the papal court of John XXII in France, the bell has tolled for the Brechin kirk.
The dissolution decision of Angus Presbytery has been met with sadness and no little anger, but it has been a long time coming and the regrettable outcome of a failure to find the common ground on which to build a new future for worship in the town.
In a final, ultimately fruitless plea to stave off closure, the cathedral’s kingly connections stretching across its centuries were raised as one of the reasons to keep the kirk open – in the face of £170,000 debt and a six-figure mountain to scale for annual survival.
The names of Kings Kenneth II, David and Robert the Bruce are all woven into the rich tapestry of the cathedral’s history, alongside connections to Oliver Cromwell and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Of course, closure will not happen overnight, possibly not for some time, but the official wheels are now in motion and, with the painful decision made, the congregation now know exactly where they stand.
Some, sadly, believe that is out in the cold.
Despite the planned union with Brechin’s Gardner Memorial now being a dead in the water victim of the impasse over the physical structures of the two congregations there is hope, expressed strongly at Presbytery, that cathedral members will lift their lines and take them to the Sir John Burnet-designed kirk near attractive St Ninian’s Square.
It is a big ask for those who fought so hard to keep the cathedral open, and last week’s decisive Presbytery meeting exposed wounds which may take some time to heal.
However, the words of one minister, making a final address to Presbytery on his retiral from the kirk, seemed particularly pertinent.
“I urge you as a congregation to think about the future, not the past,” he said.
With vision, verve and the united will of a community, Brechin Cathedral can, one hopes, stand proud for further centuries to come.
It is the very least the grand old structure deserves.