Baptist 'Cathedral of Europe' is to close down

Twitter / @coatsmemorial

A prominent Baptist church in Scotland, which is known informally as the Baptist 'Cathedral of Europe' is going to close down.

Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist, in Paisley near Glasgow, was built to seat 800 people, but now the congregation numbers around 40.

The plan won't be put into action immediately, but unless there is a rapid turnaround, it's reported the church will be closed within five years.

The Minister of the church, Revd Theo Corney, told The Daily Record it was heartbreaking for the congregation. "It's disappointing and it's a shame," he said. "Coats Memorial has got a lot to offer Paisley. It's disappointing for the people who have worshipped at the church for a number of years. It's very sad for them to see its decline."

The building was constructed in 1894, but the congregation's history goes back to 1795. The church's website says, "We are a Baptist church and our services often represent the liturgical year. We aim to be warm and welcoming and to share the love of Christ with all."

There are now around 12,000 members of churches in the Baptist Union of Scotland. Only 55 per cent of Scots now say they have a Christian faith, and declining numbers have been recorded for a number of years in the country's main denomination – the Church of Scotland.

It's thought the building will remain open for civic and music events but there won't be a worshipping community in the building for the first time in more than 100 years.

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said: "The Thomas Coats Memorial Church is one of the jewels in the town's architectural crown and the council has to, and will do, everything it can to make sure this magnificent and world-renowned building is saved."