THE congregation of an Irvine church will have to wait THREE-AND-A-HALF years before they can get a new minister.
Even then they will have to SHARE the new preacher with another church.
The astonishing move is a result of a decision to link the congregations of the Old Parish Church with Girdle Toll.
The odd reshuffle will be put in place when the Rev Robert Travers minister of the Old Parish retires towards the end of 2015.
Until then Girdle Toll who have been without a minister for 18 months will have to make do with temporary preacher.
The decision to create a joint parish of 15,000 people was taken last week by the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock.
An amendment to reconsider the plan and a counter-motion calling for extra time were defeated.
The new parish to be the sole domain of just one minister will be nearly 4,000 greater than any other linked congregations in the Presbytery.
This week one parishioner said: One minister to look after so many people, deal with two kirk sessions and basically handle two separate communities. It wont work. There were much better alternatives.
The special Presbytery committee meeting last Thursday was chaired by the Rev Andrew Black, minister of the Relief Church in Bourtreehill.
The meeting was convened to decide how best to use resources of the churches.
The committee heard submissions from David Whitelaw from the Old Parish, which has more than 400 members and Eric Greig from the 180 member Girdle Toll. It is understood both made the point that the creation of such a large parish would cause untold problems. One of the smallest parishes in Irvine Fullarton with just 3,800 people was left untouched because it is in a deprivation area.
It is believed the decision is open to appeal.