WHEN your bank turns into a pub and your pub turns into a restaurant and your restaurant into a, well you get the picture, it’s obvious that, as Mr Zimmerman observed, the times they are a- changin’.

And he knew a thing or two about spirituality, did our Bob. Even if you’re not a Dylan fan –and I’m not – his music speaks volumes about mankind and the rich and varied tapestries of our lives.

This is not the time nor place for my views on religion, how I see it and its place in a very febrile world. But it is the time and place to talk about a small village church and its role in the community in the post-Covid new normal.

The beautiful Rhu and Shandon Parish Church occupies a prominent and iconic spot on our foreshore, where the main road swings north.

The building itself is stunning and in addition, the graveyard is fascinating. Interred there are such famous Helensburgh names as artist Sir James Guthrie and shipping pioneer Henry Bell.

My favourite part of the tableau is the seeing the church in its spring clothes – framed by pink cherry blossom and its grasses swathed in snowdrop and crocus flowers.

It has been the site of a church for more than 350 years – but possibly not for much longer.

The Church of Scotland says it intends to reduce the number of church buildings across the country – and this one faces an uncertain future.

Congregations are dwindling, beautiful building or not, and the current model is unsustainable.

As it is, the neighbouring Rhu Primary School uses the church for services and choir practice, something that must surely continue and indeed be expanded if the church is to survive.

Sunday services alternate between the church and Helensburgh Parish Church a few miles away, such is the reduction in numbers. Of course, Covid has not helped, with so many services cancelled or moved to online platforms and singing curtailed.

If you have chosen to stop going to church, be it at Rhu and Shandon or anywhere else, then the reason for that is yours and yours alone. If you have chosen to return to church, equally the decision and its inherent soul-searching is exclusively personal.

Congregants have recently taken part in a consultation process about the use of the church, when, why and by whom. The results of that consultation will be known shortly. Whether it will result in the church being saved remains to be seen.

But in all honesty, do we really need to see another conversion of an iconic historic building from a church to a restaurant or cinema? So it’s use it or lose it.

In the meantime, the church’s future is blowin’ in the wind, as his Bobness might say.