Larbert church merger put on hold following disagreement

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Larbert Old Parish Church

A MERGER between two churches has been postponed after disagreements between the two participants.

Larbert Old and Larbert West parish churches were expected to join congregations with their first service together to take place on August 7.

The deal would have meant the closure of Larbert Old’s historic building, after independent arbiters decided worship would be held at Larbert West on Main Street.

The move hit a snag, however, as Larbert Old withdrew from discussions to find a new name for the congregation, meaning the deadline for registering the change with the Scottish Charity Regulator was missed.

Arthur Priestly, an elder at Larbert West, criticised the way the merger has been handled.

He said: “There must be a lot of hurt in Larbert Old’s congregation because they don’t understand why they have to give up their building. It has never been explained to them what is actually going on.”

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Larbert West Parish Church

Larbert West have accused their neighbours of trying to change the decision by submitting a petition to Falkirk Presbytery.

While the administrative body rejected the petition, they did feel the relationship between the two churches had been strained.

Presbytery agreed that the proposed union be delayed for up to six months to allow a listening group led by Rev Albert Bogle to settle the spat.

During the listening period, both churches will have an interim moderator who will explore possibilities in which the churches can move forward as one.

Walter Williamson, the interim moderator at Larbert Old, said: “The two interim moderators will be working with the two churches independently and trying to seek a resolution towards a union.

“There will also be two past moderators on a panel listening to the problems, issues and concerns that both churches have regarding a union.”

The plan is to complete the merger by February 2017.

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