SEVEN county churches are expected to close their doors by the end of 2027.

A review of churches across the Lothian and Borders has been carried out as “surplus or unsuitable buildings will be released”.

Now, the Church of Scotland have confirmed that a number of churches have been set aside for closure within the next five years.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Under the current plans, seven buildings in East Lothian have been earmarked for closure by the end of 2027.

“Whitekirk Church, Whittingehame Church and St John’s Church, Whitecraig, are all already in the process of being sold.

“Innerwick Church and Oldhamstocks Church are all due to be disposed of by the end of 2023.

“Spott Church is due for disposal by mid-2027.

“Plans are also being made to move the buildings of Cockenzie and Port Seton Old into community ownership.”

The final service was held at Whitekirk Parish Church in May 2021.

It is part of an extended parish of Traprain, with weekly services held at Prestonkirk Parish Church in East Linton.

In December 2021, plans were submitted to East Lothian Council to transform Whittingehame Parish Church into a family home.

The church, which dates back to 1722, was put on the market in 2020 but no decision has been made on the planning application.

Last summer, it was revealed that St John’s Church, the daughter church of St Michael’s Church at Inveresk, was on the market at offers over £100,000.

According to the Church of Scotland, the property is currently under offer.

Innerwick Parish Church and Oldhamstocks Parish Church both make up part of the Parish of Dunglass and are still in use.

Spott Parish Church is linked to Belhaven Parish Church and is still used for services.

The Church of Scotland stressed no congregations would be “lost as part of the process, but will develop new partnerships and new ways of working”.

The spokesperson said: “It is a roadmap to the future because change is necessary in order to deliver sustainable and realistic new expressions of ministry and ensure well-equipped spaces are in the right places to effectively deliver Jesus’ call to mission and discipleship and serve the people in our communities.

“Under the five-year plan, surplus or unsuitable buildings will be released, allowing the Church to make the best use of its resources.

“No congregations will be lost as part of the process, but will develop new partnerships and new ways of working.

“The plan will affect every part of the presbytery, although in different ways.

“In some cases, there may be a change to the shape of a parish, in other cases there will be two or more existing congregations uniting and coming together as one, impacting on the number of buildings required.

“In yet other areas, congregations will develop partnerships to work together in new ways to reach out and serve local communities.

“Whilst this will be challenging and bring understandable sadness for those who have been connected with a particular church for a very long time, these proposals will ensure the Church is able to continue to meet the spiritual and practical needs of its community.”

To help with decision-making on the future of church buildings, presbyteries used a toolkit created by the Church of Scotland’s General Trustees and Faith Nurture Forum to determine which buildings best enable the Church “to serve local communities and fulfil its mission”.

Criteria includes that the building is wind and watertight, safe to use, secure, accessible and offer flexibility of use.