JOHN R Hume's letter (April 27) about the relationship between the Church of Scotland and its buildings is good on ancient history but omits some important and relevant facts. What he is really yearning for is the independent Free Kirk which existed from 1843 when about half the ministers walked out of their kirks and set about raising new buildings.

Most of these joined the United Free (UF) Kirk where congregations owned their own buildings. Even after the reunion in 1929, former UF congregations continued to own their own buildings and manses and so if they closed or had a union, they continued to own the building and were free to use it or sell it. I know this because I have been an elder involved in several unions in Aberdeen, and helping to deal with the sales.

Alas this does not apply to ancient kirks built before the 1843 Disruption, which belong to the historic Church of Scotland. The problem here is that although the buildings look fine the congregations are severely ageing, mostly over 65.

With the numerical collapse of the Boys Brigade and most Sunday schools, the Church has lost some four decades of potential members. These people live in the area but their givings are no longer there to support church upkeep. Even when they spend very large amounts on weddings or funerals very little of this goes to the Church of Scotland, because it wants to maintain its status as the National Church which is tied to an outdated fee structure.

This problem is further compounded by the retirement of ageing ministers and there being few young ministers to replace them. The church has been making do with roughly 70 per cent of the ministers it needs, which could soon fall to 50% with a bulge of retirals. Having so many vacant churches kept going with locum ministers doing multiple jobs is unsustainable. That is what has caused the draconian plan to reduce church buildings by roughly 50%, not some evangelical plot as Mr Hume alleges.

Somehow we need to get back to the faith of the Saints like St Columba, St Kentigern and St Ninian who brought Christianity to Scotland, but this is very hard to do when most of the population believes social media rather than the Gospels.

Peter Gray, Aberdeen.

Hierarchy is to blame

JOHN R Hume is right in some of his protestations. However, the disenfranchisement of congregations in the Church of Scotland began many years ago with local church, hall and manse title deeds being transferred to 121 George Street.

Members were turned into tenants in their own buildings. The money and property agenda was not inflicted on members of the Church by evangelicals. The recent formation of large diocesan presbyteries is also a reversal of the Reformation direction from hierarchy to people. It was created by the same people who caused the second disruption when many conservative evangelicals left the Church of Scotland after the General Assembly of 2009 due to its policy of social liberalism.

We read about "greenwashing" and "sportswashing". The Church of Scotland's "mission washing" is transparently hypocritical. It is like the occasion when former American President Richard Nixon was advised by one of his counsellors: "Mr President, the people want moral leadership." To which Nixon is reported to have replied: "Sure, if the people want moral leadership, we'll give them moral leadership."

There is a disconnect between aspiration and capacity. Mission is the end point of Christian life which is based on personal faith in and personal knowledge of God, has matured this faith in relationship to Jesus Christ, can articulate it and is possessed of a calling to do so. Many members of the Church of Scotland are sincere and gifted people. However many are unconvinced about the basic claims of the Christian Gospel. Their commitment is to their church – that is, their local congregation. They do need to be born again but the Church of Scotland is not nurturing them towards that end.

Rev Dr Robert Anderson, Dundonald.

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Read more: Evangelicals seeking to take over and destroy the Church of Scotland

Weary of the new puritans

WHAT an intolerant rant Neil Mackay makes ("This anti-woke hysteria has hit the heights of absurdity", The Herald, April 25), not tolerating anti-woke folk who don’t tolerate woke folk.

Basically people are irritated about being berated ad nauseum by being told continually what way they must think, and what subjects must never be debated or challenged by the new puritans, the virtue-signallers like Mr Mackay.

Irene Munro, Conon Bridge.

Good for the boss

CONGRATULATIONS to Roger White, the boss of Barr’s, the maker of Irn-Bru, on his 82% increase in earnings last year ("AG Barr executives in pay boost as bonuses return to Irn-bru maker", The Herald, April 26). I trust the shop floor workers in his company also got similar generous increases to their income.

John Palfreyman, Coupar Angus.

BBC trailers are a drag

I FULLY endorse the views (Letters, April 25 & 27) expressed on poor TV subtitling. This is not helped by increasingly rapid-fire pronouncements of news reports that even those with near to perfect hearing must have difficulty. understanding.

My preference for BBC viewing is also now tarnished by the amount of trailers between programmes that assuredly shorten the times given for such. The BBC is, sadly, getting more like ITV everyday, which has always interrupted programmes with largely inane adverts.

John Macnab, Falkirk.

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Sound bites

I WAS amused to read the letter (April 27) by my father, R Russell Smith, about cars being equipped with boxes containing phrases to be activated at appropriate moments.

I recall the time that he himself used his own voicebox to do just that.

Years ago when driving on Great Western Road he courteously let a driver pull out. That driver then mouthed something and naturally my father was taken aback. Alongside at the next traffic lights my father rolled down his window and gestured to the other man to do likewise. "What’s biting you?" said my father. "Nothing," said the man, "I was just singing along to the music."

My father then used "his box" to pause, rewind, apologise and move on.

Alison Ram, Helensburgh.

• MY self-drive car's wee box would have to include the oft-heard words of my significant other: " Are you driving faster because we're going home?".

David Miller, Milngavie.