Restoration at Saint Mungo’s
We will remember Christmas, 2003 when we re-opened our Church after more than a year of restoration work. It was something we had waited for not only through those fifteen months of construction debris and noise, but for many years.
We put aside the buckets for catching water dripping through the roof. The crumbling stone on the outside and flaking paint on the inside are at last things of the past. We celebrated a homecoming, as we took possession once more of our Church. Time has passed since that happy homecoming, and still we continue to survey the work of restoration with delight and great gratitude.
What has been done
In this first phase of restoration work, the outside of the building has been completely renewed. Slates, stone, glass, lead and cast iron: all the problems caused by years of wear and tear or simply by old age have been dealt with. In addition, many original features which had been lost over the years, particularly over the main entrance, have been re-instated. Many of us have had fun looking for these and seeing how many new/old features we could spot. Right: some of the new/old features of Saint Mungo’s
Inside the Church, painting and stone cleaning have given a new freshness to a building which was quite tired looking before, and a new lighting scheme has enabled us to see the beauty of the Church more clearly. The Munich Glass has undergone full conservation at the studio in Munich where it was made in 1898, and new stained glass above the organ gallery now bathes the Church in richly coloured light. A new sanctuary area in oak reflects into the nave the shape of the old gothic sanctuary, and on a practical level, improvements to the heating system and new roof insulation should make the Church a warmer place to be.
The fourteen Stations of the Cross have been restored and all the benches in the church have been refinished. The corridor leading to the sacristy and halls has been re-roofed; the corridor and sacristy have been re-wired. Our new bookshop opened in April 2006. It is in the former baptistery area and has been separated from the Church by a wood and glass screen in the style of the already-existing screens.
What is still to be done
In the less immediate future, there are other items to be completed before we can say we have finished. A new altar, ambo and chair, more in keeping with the new sanctuary area, have been designed, but are waiting to be commissioned. A new baptismal font and two new reconciliation rooms are still to be designed. Improvements are still to be made around the entrances: we have to install notice boards, draught-proof doors and furnishings for the entrance porches. We also hope to create an exhibition space in the base of the bell tower, and to put the bell back in working order. At some stage, we will also have to put a new floor into the nave, as the present floor is badly worn and uneven after 137 years of use.
In the long term, we would like to see the main sanctuary being re-ordered for today’s liturgy and the columns around the sanctuary, covered over in the early 1950s, being re-instated, but these will have to wait until the debt on the present works is fully paid.
How much do we owe?
The total project cost of what has been carried out in the first phase of works is about £2.2 two million. We have received generous grants from Historic Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust and the Columba Trust. We have been greatly helped by the Government’s VAT Recovery Scheme for listed churches. Our parishioners and friends have also been very generous in supporting the project financially and in organizing fund-raising activities over the past few years.
When the present works were completed in December 2003, we were left with a debt of £555,000. Through fund-raising and additional grants, that debt now stands at just over £400,000. This is an enormous sum of money for any parish, especially a small one like ours, and the sooner we have it paid off the better for us all.
Our Restoration Debt
During March of 2005, the parish got into financial difficulties meeting the repayments on the bank loan we had taken out to pay for the church restoration work. At this point, a number of people were willing to make a regular monthly contribution to the restoration debt; most people chose to do this through a bank standing order. I wish to thank all those who signed up for this, as this regular payment is a great help to us in meeting our obligations to the bank and your support has lightened the burden considerably.
However, if we are to repay what we owe, we need a lot more people to sign the yellow Bank Standing Order form. I realize that many of our parishioners and friends are already committed to Faith into Action and indeed to other charities, but a contribution of even one pound per week would be a great help to us. If you have not already done so and would like to help us with a monthly contribution towards reducing our debt, there are forms available at the church door.
Cheques for the Restoration Fund should be made out to “Saint Mungo’s Retreat Parochial Account” and can be sent to Saint Mungo’s Retreat, 52 Parson Street, Glasgow G4 0RX. Gift Aid Forms are available for those who pay tax.
Another way to help us would be by making a bequest to Saint Mungo’s in your will. If you have no family to take care of and have been thinking of leaving everything to charity, you need look no further! That way, you can hold on to everything in this life and then pass it on when you will no longer need it. Think about it!