THE recent contributions on the future of the Church of Scotland are to be commended (Letters, April 27 & 28). However, it is the present and immediate future which has to be addressed. The past is the past. Historical rifts and and disruptions should be put aside.

Clusters (an informal association of neighbouring churches) is the new buzz word for future survival. Perhaps so. Perhaps not. In my view it is a very temporary stay of execution. Immediacy of orderly closure and integration is paramount. Currently most churches have an attendance of perhaps 20% of their actual stated roll membership. I accept health and age preclude many from attendance but coupled with a lack of new ordinated clergy the position is made worse.

In simple words the Church of Scotland needs leadership from within to address the national slide and provide a new invigorated service based on reality.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.

People, not buildings, count

IT has been so helpful to reflect on recent correspondence about the future of the Kirk. Both John R Hume (Letters, April 27) and Peter Gray (Letters, April 28) outline the background to the situation facing the Church of Scotland today.

I would concur with Rev Dr Anderson (Letters April 28) that in many ways the hierarchy is to blame. There has in my view been a lack of leadership from the hierarchy in Edinburgh, and at the same time the restructured "diocesan" presbyteries are struggling to cope. Perhaps we should have changed the presbyteries first before attempting to implement the Mission Plan which includes the closure of so many Cchurches.

However, as it is Jesus Christ who is the head of the Church of Scotland it would be my hope that an agreed way forward for His Church will be found in due course. After all, as the Church is the body of Christ it is the people, rather than the buildings, which is more important, even if in many cases we can feel so attached to them.

Ron Lavalette, Ardrossan.

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• IT was with disbelief that I read Professor John R Hume's letter and his suggestion that the Church of Scotland's decline is being exacerbated by "evangelicals" and their desire to "make disciples for Jesus".

If only he could see the real reason for the Kirk's inexorable demise: the rejection of God's word as the infallible rule for life and a turning away from the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. It was these values that my late father preached in his 33-year-long ministry in the Church of Scotland. It was his commitment to them that led him to turn his back on the Kirk forever.

If the so-called "National Church" is to be saved, it can only be through repentance, reform and renewal.

Neil White, Blairgowrie.

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

Islay keeps missing out

AS a resident of Islay I am well accustomed to seeing Calmac vessels passing by" and not trying to approach either of the ferryports on the island – just as the long-delayed Clansman did this morning (April 29), but today we witnessed the Alfred which only started her charter to the company on April 27 approaching and berthing at Port Askaig and then by-passing Port Ellen to head for Brodick.

Whilst the latter is a welcome development the continual insistence by Calmac to miss the island out does not make Islay feel like part of the network but rather like Cinderella – beautiful to look at but not to call on.The old adage "You never know until you try" is most apposite.

The four new vessels being built in Turkey will be similar in size to the Caledonian Isles – another vessel which has never tried the ports on Islay.

There are plans being worked up for changes to the piers on Islay to accommodate the new vessels but it would be prudent to future-proof the shore works so that as many as possible of the existing larger vessels could also serve the island.

Jean Knowles, Laphroaig, Islay.

Rail moves are welcome

DETAILS of the progress being made to reopen the railway station at Leven ("Reopening station could be a model for the future", The Herald, April 28) is indeed welcome. To be named Levenmouth along with the also-reopened Cameron Bridge, the branch extending from Thornton is less than 12 miles, but will serve a significant catchment area.

It is also hoped that the Diego whisky plant at Cameron Bridge will also engender use of rail freight services.

The Beeching Plan of 1963 proposed closure of the Fife coast line only from Leven to St Andrews which included Elie and Pittenweem; this duly came about in the period 1963/5 but the section between Thornton to Leven was not and only arose (as did that between Leuchars and St Andrews, Wormit to Newport-on-Tay) as later proposals. They succumbed in 1969.

This was in no small part due the opening of the Tay and Forth road bridges, respectively, in 1964 and 1966 and the M8 wending its way through Fife which also spelt the death knell of the rail route from Kinross to Perth via Glenfarg that also did not feature in the Beeching Plan.

John Macnab, Falkirk.

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The inexorable rise of Camilla

IT is reported that a survey by Ipsos indicates that 49 per cent are of the view that Charles is performing well as King with 32% stating that he is doing neither a good nor a bad job ("Half say Charles is ‘doing a good job'", The Herald, April 26 ). A mixed result one might say.

In relation to the performance by Charles as Prince of Wales or King, there is one area in which he can be said to have performed at a top level and that is the management of the message for public consumption concerning Camilla. Over years she has risen from being Camilla Parker-Bowles, then the "third person" in the marriage of Charles and Diana, then the Duchess of Cornwall, then Queen Consort, and soon to become Queen. Who would have predicted such a stellar elevation a few years ago?

The phrase "chalk and cheese" springs to mind when comparing the soon-to-become Queen Camilla with the late Queen Elizabeth.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.