It looks like it is going to be a very happy new year for parishioners in Millport.
The ‘News’ can reveal that proposals for a new church build in 2018 are at an advanced stage.
The proposal was first put forward for a new Cumbrae Parish Church in 2011 - earmarked for what is currently farmland to the east of Cumbrae Primary in Bute Terrace - and will include a multi-purpose hall, ancillary meeting rooms, creche, offices, utility areas and associated parking.
A massive community fundraising effort has taken place over the past seven years, and islanders have raised around £200,000 towards the overall cost of the project which is £1m.
Bob Morris, Project Group leader at the church, said: “I am very proud of the fact that local giving events and donations has played a big part, and we have also received a fair amount of grants including one from the All Churches Trust, and a substantial grant from the Church of Scotland, and there is the possibility of expansion in future.
“We have managed to sell Manse, and now the existing church, so we are very close now to covering all the costs towards the new church, and it is an exciting time for the island community.”
At a time when churches have been struggling and closing in some circumstances in Scotland, Mr Morris admits it does go against the grain, and the Church of Scotland have been intrigued by the Millport success story and are going to be carrying out a case study to see if the model can be replicated elsewhere.
After the dilapidated Cumbrae Parish Church closed in 2015, services have been taking place in the D.A Hall and Age Concern Hall. It is anticipated that the new church will be ready for July/August 2018.
Recently appointed Cumbrae minister Jonathan Fleming has been quickly brought up to speed on developments, and said: “It is real testimony to the hard hard work and determination of the project group to make this happen. It is important to say that none of this would have been possible without the work of new church focus group as well as guidance and leadership of (locum) Nicky Smith and the late Rev. Markus Thane.
“It is a single storey building with steel frames with pitch roofing with a sanctuary to hold 140 people as well as a kitchen area office and another room for Sunday School and various church matters.
The old Cumbrae Parish Church is set to be developed into flats.