IN SERVICE: Huge turnout for new church opening in Portree

Around 350 people gathered for the opening Pic Willie Urquhart

Hundreds turned up in person and hundreds more tuned in online to witness the grand opening of a new Free Church building in Portree last Saturday (3rd February).

The result of over 20 years of planning and fundraising, the Portree and Bracadale presbytery welcomed a capacity crowd of 350 to the opening, on Shepherd’s Way, from all over Scotland.

By the end of the day, another 1000-plus had watched the live-streaming online, many from other parts of the world.

Reverend Donnie G MacDonald and Professor Bob Akroyd, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, with some of the recipients of gifts following the service Pic Willie Urquhart

Elder Charles Crichton, chairman of the new building committee and a former GP, told the Free Press that, thanks to architect Colin Armstrong, the worship space and the hall/cafe part of the building can become a single space thanks to a sliding door arrangement known by the tradename Movawall.

The worship space by itself can accommodate 220 while the hall/café can cater for another 130. 

During last week’s service and grand opening, Mr Armstrong was thanked, as were project manager Nick Lawton from Torrance Partnership and Robert MacQueen of RK Joinery, the Skye firm selected to build the new premises, which cost £2.1 million and is for wider community use as well as functioning as a church.

It has taken a huge fundraising effort to build the church Pic Willie Urquhart

Mr Crichton, who himself received a shepherd’s crook as a gift of thanks for all his work, said: “We have had support from people in the Free Church from across Scotland literally for 15 or more years – financial and prayer support.

“There has been a kind of nationwide interest in our little denomination.

“So when all that work came to fruition there was an upwelling of support and people came from far and wide along to see what they have been sending their contributions to.

“All the way through we have made the emphasis that, yes, we have worked hard for this, but at the same time we recognise God has moved people to give and there have been the big donors and the widow’s mite, the unsung donors throughout the years who nobody knows about and who don’t want to be known, but whose contributions have been very real and very important.”

Article by Michael Russell