A PORT Glasgow church is set to close down after more than 60 years.

St Martin's in Mansion Avenue is expected to shut pending the result of a poll over a union with St Andrew's Church in the town centre.

Both sets of parishioners will vote on the merger on Sunday.

Church officer Wilma McDade, who has been a member of the church since 1971, said: "We are all devastated but we have to face facts.

"We have a dwindling congregation and an ageing congregation and all the houses have come down round about us.

"We used to have an active youth club and all the children who lived in Sunnyside, Pleasantside, Brightside and Woodhall used to come to church.

"When the houses came down, the kids moved further up the hill."

Wilma believes that parishioners have to look to the future.

She said: "It is a beautiful church and we have spent a lot of time and money keeping it nice.

"Most people are very upset but we have to face facts - we cannot afford the upkeep.

"Two churches together are better than none at all."

The church was built in 1957 but the parish dates back to 1944, when services were conducted in a hall to serve the housing estate in Woodhall.

Wilma, 69, said: "St Martin's has always been part of the community.

"Most people and many non-Christians in the area would come to baptisms and weddings and share fellowship.

"A lot of good times have been had in St Martin's Church and we've all got our special memories.

"What is happening is an accumulation of different things - lack of congregation, lack of funds and a shortage of ministers.

"But it's not all gloom and doom, we're going in the right direction.

"I don't want to sink, I want to swim. "

The union is part of presbytery plan and if it goes ahead it is not known when the church will close or what will happen to the building.

It has been without a minister since 2017 and lately parishioners have been sharing services with Hamilton Bardrainney Church.

Reverend Francis Murphy, interim moderator for St Martin's, says a lack of ministers is another factor in the union of parishes.

He said: "One of the issues in the Church of Scotland is the amount of ministers retiring, there are less ministers to fill positions in parishes.

"I would say there are some encouraging things as well - a number of younger people who are applying to go into the ministry.

"It takes quite a while for people to complete their training and hopefully in time we will see more people come into the ministry."

Reverend Archie Speirs, a former minister at St Martin's, said: "They are two lovely congregations who will work well together.

"I wish them every blessing in their journey together."

A spokeswoman for the Church of Scotland said: “In accordance with the presbytery plan for Greenock and Paisley, a process of uniting the congregations of Port Glasgow St Andrew’s and Port Glasgow St Martin’s is currently under way.

“As part of this plan, the intention is for the newly formed congregation to use the St Andrew’s building and for the building currently used by St Martin’s to close.

“In this case, a decision about the future of the closed building would be made in due course.

“We would encourage those who wish to shape the future of the two congregations to attend meetings which are being held on Sunday at each church.

“Any decisions that are taken at the meetings will then go back to the presbytery to be confirmed.”