AFTER A restructuring of the local parishes, the congregations of Toward, Innellan, High Kirk, Kirn & Sandbank and St John’s united earlier this year to form the Cowal Kirk.
During the process, the Presbytery of Argyll identified Dunoon High Kirk for closure.
The High Kirk, a Grade B listed building with a history dating back to the 13th century, is situated within a conservation area of the town and has been identified as a feature of “special architectural and historical interest” by the Dunoon Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS). It is a long standing and well loved building within the town, so members sought to find a future use for it.
The Church of Scotland is looking to the future through its Radical Action Plan. This involves ensuring that it offers “well equipped spaces in the right places” and it was this initiative that inspired the congregation of The Cowal Kirk. Having formulated an ambitious and exciting mission plan, the Cowal Kirk looked in more detail at how it could be delivered.
The plan concentrates on three main areas; to connect with young people, support the elderly and vulnerable – and to put thechurchattheheartof the community.
Plans were hatched to transform the High Kirk into a multi-purpose facility that could meet the needs of the community.
This involves removing the pews and forming a large multi-purpose space in the current sanctuary, together with office space, a large kitchen, along with space for the foodbank and other meeting rooms.
The upper floors would all be levelled and would form office space, a large hall, activity space and storage for all the users.
The converted High Kirk would form a youth centre as a base for the eXp Youth Organisation to include office accommodation and activity space together with a facility for the 1st Cowal Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association. Other plans for the youngsters include breakfast clubs and multi-generational activities in conjunction with the local schools.
The Cowal Kirk at present supports the local foodbank by offering space for the storage and dispersing of the food together with facilities for the Hub Grub to offer free hot meals to those in need. The refurbished facility could offer a real enhancement to the service both in quality and quantity by the
introduction of a social enterprise cafe offering fresh and ambient food on a daily basis, a community fridge, a training kitchen, ancillary support and counselling services.
The plans also include office accommodation for the ministry team and a small chapel area for private prayer and intimate services.
A business case is currently being prepared for submission to Argyll Presbytery later this summer, with a final decision being made on its future at the September Presbytery meeting.
The Cowal Kirk would like to hear from the wider community about the future development of the High Kirk building.
A spokesperson said: “We are excited to share our plans which will be on display from Tuesday, June 8 in The Wee Charity Shop, Argyll Street, with members around on Thursday, Friday and Saturday June 10, 11 and 12 to provide further details and note your views.
“So pop along and show your support or have your say. The shop is open from 10am to 4pm each day.”