Tingwall Kirk

Tingwall Kirk in many respects represents the Church in the British Isles. A place of great heritage and historic charm (Tingwall is the place where the Shetland Norse held their parliaments), it is now somewhat barren and deserted. A sign on the door advises that the church is locked to visitors on account of their insurance policy, which struck me as nonsense. An information board had the last minister’s name, one Rev Debbie Dobby, scrubbed out.

Rev Dobbie left Shetland after her churches were closed to find congregations elsewhere. Meanwhile, a homemade poster with the insipid message ‘God is love and hope’ was stuck on the wall.

God is indeed love and hope, but there was little evidence of it in this forlorn, abandoned place. The amazing love of a saving Christ and the hope of the gospel of grace may not have sounded in this church for a generation or more. Meanwhile, the kirkyard was cluttered with tombs, sepulchres and a macabre-looking mausoleum. The latter, full of old grave stones and detritus, was fully open to the visitor- in stark contrast to the church itself.

Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name. Psalm 80:18