A spectral rallying cry of resistance from Galatians—a few photos of Unst Former Free Church, Shetland

The inscription from Galatians above the south door
Visible from the cottage on Unst where we are staying is another derelict church, the Unst Former Free Church and this afternoon I took a short spin over to visit it.

A few evenings ago one of our hosts (who remembers attending a service there as a child) told us that it was set up at the dissenting minister and congregation’s own expense as a way of protesting at their lack of religious liberty under the local Laird. This bid from freedom is expressed in the inscription above the south door from Galatians 5:1:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 

As the minister of a small, dissenting, free-religious church myself, one which, although very far from finished, continues to struggle (as does every church community) against the overall decline in church membership in Britain, walking around the derelict buildings in the sun accompanied by the song of dozens of skylarks was almost unbearably poignant. Although as a Christian Atheist it is abundantly clear that I would have shared neither the original minister's nor the congregation’s theology, I do still share with them a strong sense that Christ (the human Christ of course) brought us a priceless kind of liberty that was very effective at keeping us from bondage. Alas, however, we seem to be entering an age that is all too willing to become entangled again with many yokes of bondage — especially those of neoliberalism, nationalism, and racism.

So, along with the faithful ghosts of this place, I reaffirm their spectral rallying cry of resistance still found in the words carved above their door:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

All photos taken with an iPhone 6+ using the Blackie App
(Just click on a photo to enlarge it)

The driveway to the church
The church with the derelict manse to the left
The main, south entrance and bellcote
The inscription and bellcote
Inside looking north
One of the vestry windows at the north end
Vestry windows at the north end
Looking south from the inside
The church taken from the south-west 
The derelict manse
The church and manse taken from the north-west


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