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Doubt over future of Salvation Army in Thurso, says community advocate


By David G Scott

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A community advocate based in Thurso said he believes the town's Salvation Army church is in danger of closing.

Alexander Glasgow posted on a Facebook page called Thurso Community Noticeboard that it was "sad but almost certainly inevitable" that the church at Market Street will close next year.

"After 130 years in Thurso, the Sally Arm is bound to leave around about Pentecost [May 19] 2024," wrote Mr Glasgow, who said he had heard the information from a "very reliable source".

The Salvation Army building in Thurso. Picture: A Glasgow
The Salvation Army building in Thurso. Picture: A Glasgow

He continued: "They caused a wee bit of disruption when when they first appeared with their quasi-military marches but the Burgh got used to them. The story goes is that a Salvationist was in Thurso in the 1890s looking to establish a Corps, and bumped into a friend of Sir Tollemache Sinclair.

"He was offered this building which had been constructed as an independent chapel in 1799; although it then was a coal storeroom below and with ship masts above. It was built on the sand dunes of Thurso which people in their 80s and 90s still call the desert.

"They continue to enjoy a peppercorn rent from John Thurso but cannot use, as I understand, the property for any other purpose than a church."

Mr Glasgow ended his statement by saying that "when they leave, I think it could make an excellent community hub!".

Alexander Glasgow volunteering in the kitchen of the Salvation Army in Thurso to prepare community lunches back in 2012. Picture supplied
Alexander Glasgow volunteering in the kitchen of the Salvation Army in Thurso to prepare community lunches back in 2012. Picture supplied

The Salvation Army PR and Communications Office was contacted to ascertain if there was any substance to Mr Glasgow's claim. Divisional commander Major Gillian Jackson would not confirm any closure and stated: “The North Scotland Division regularly reviews and evaluates all the work of the Salvation Army in its location. A review of Thurso Corps is ongoing.”

Mr Glasgow's social media post drew some criticism from a commanding officer with the Salvation Army, Major Elaine Turner, who stated in a public post: "Whereas that may be true in that it is possible we may close next year, no definite decision has been made regarding this.

"As such please don't automatically assume this, but ask that you instead please think of those people who have served faithfully for many years and for whom are obviously very upset at the news. So please think of those people and do not comment until such time as a decision has been made."

Mr Glasgow said that he believes the last service to be Easter Sunday and the church will finally close its doors on May 19, 2024 which is the Christian holiday of Pentecost, also known as Whitsunday.

He added that the Thurso Salvation Army church "simply does not have to footfall to survive".


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