Call for volunteers: Church recording project

Call for volunteers: Church recording project

Scotland’s Churches Trust

Scotland’s historic church buildings are currently experiencing a period of upheaval of a scale last seen in the 19th century. Hundreds of sites, many of which have been places of sacred ceremony, community fellowship and spiritual refuge for centuries, are set to close their doors to the public.

In most cases, the exterior solid fabric of these well-known local landmarks will be saved, as the buildings are reused for other purposes, but the artefacts inside will mostly be removed elsewhere and scattered to the four winds.

Scotland’s Churches Trust is working with Historic Environment Scotland on a pilot project to try to enlist and empower local volunteers across the country to make a record of as much of this unique, multi-generational, cultural heritage as possible, before it is lost forever.  We reproduce the call for volunteers made by its director, DJ Johnston-Smith, below:

“By its very nature this is effectively an emergency recording exercise. Depending on the church size and the number of available volunteers, we would hope to complete the survey of each church in as little as a single morning or afternoon. You can read one volunteer’s thoughts on a recent church recording session here and watch a short video about that day here.

As well as offering training and advice, we have also created an online church recording form into which volunteers can add a description of each item and up to five photographs straight from their smartphone or tablet. The results of these recording sessions will eventually be made publicly available on the CANMORE website.

The Church of Scotland Presbytery Planning process officially closes on 31 December, when all local plans for the future of their buildings have to be submitted to their internal governance committees. Consequently, the full extent of the next wave of closures will become much clearer in early 2023.

Early in the New Year we will host a group discussion on Zoom to lay out our plans before offering some online training for those that can’t make it along in person to the next churches our existing small band of volunteers identify for recording.

We hope to grow a national database of potential volunteers that we might be able to call upon to visit their local closing churches. So if you would like to get involved and help make a permanent record of your local church before its closes, please get in touch with our director DJ Johnston-Smith at and we will add you to our potential church recorders mailing list.”