One Fifty at One Seventy | 8. The Millennium

As early as 1998, the Mission Committee at Strathbungo Queen’s Park began to think about what the church could do to mark the new Millennium. It was decided that on the last day of the century, the church would be opened for three hours in the afternoon. This time would be divided into six half-hour sessions, each consisting of readings from the Scripture, a period of meditation, spoken prayers, silent prayer and music.

It was to be that the congregation would enter the new Millennium looking for a new minister. At the June 1999 meeting of the Kirk Session, Miss Stewart announced that it was her intention, after twenty years at 170 Queen’s Drive, to retire as from 31 January 2000. Her demission was accepted by Glasgow Presbytery in September 1999 and the Rev Iain Morrison of Hillington Park was appointed as Interim Moderator.

At the time, ‘the Reappraisal Committee [of Glasgow Presbytery] was not in a position to bring further information to Strathbungo Queen’s Park’. However, on 16 November a letter was received from the Rev Alex Cunningham, the Presbytery Clerk, regarding the Basis of Union with Crosshill Queen’s Park. At the morning services on 21 and 28 November, a notice regarding the election of a Vacancy Committee was to be read in both churches. On 19 December, ten members, representing both congregations, were elected unanimously.

As the Vacancy Committee began its task, a special evening in honour of Miss Stewart was held in Strathbungo Queen’s Park on Monday, 31 January 2000, her last day officially ‘in charge’. Those present enjoyed a varied musical programme by the choir and soloists. Mrs Helen Leitch spoke on behalf of the congregation. She highlighted Norma’s vision of congregational life as the bringing together of all who make up the broad circle of the church family. Helen said that for 21 years, Miss Stewart had been an encourager, an educator and above all, an enabler. She did not believe in ‘passive’ church membership and felt strongly that a major part of her role was to identify and nurture particular talents in the membership, encouraging those who possessed them to use them in God’s service. A presentation was made by Charles Russell (who chose to do so in poetic style) as he handed Miss Stewart an engraved Caithness glass bowl and cheque. In her reply, Miss Stewart thanked him and said that, for her, the congregation would always be ‘Special Quality People’ (or SQP, sharing the acronym with Strathbungo Queen’s Park).

The final service held in Crosshill Queen’s Park Parish Church took place on Sunday, 13 February and was well attended, both by members of Crosshill Queen’s Park and Strathbungo Queen’s Park. During the service, the Rev Dr Harry Hutchison preached the sermon. On Wednesday, 16 February, the service of union of the new Queen’s Park Parish Church congregation took place, and on Sunday, 20 February, the first service of the newly-united congregation was led by the locum, the Rev Iain Cameron.

On Sunday, 21 May 2000, Mr Lindsay Macqueen, chair of the Vacancy Committee, reported that the committee had decided on a sole nominee to fill the vacancy. Their nominee was the Rev Malcolm Duff from Kilwinning Erskine Parish Church in Ardrossan Presbytery. With all of the procedures under Church Law having been completed satisfactorily, the congregation voted nearly unanimously for Mr Duff and he was to be inducted to the new charge on 26 October. The locum, Mr Cameron, therefore continued to be responsible for public worship over the summer months, after which he was thanked warmly for his services to the congregation.

From the union of Strathbungo Queen’s Park and Crosshill Queen’s Park, James McCreadie and J. Derek Brown had served as Joint Session Clerks. However, with both having indicated their desire to resign, Mrs Leitch was appointed as sole Session Clerk on 27 June, ‘for a period of one year.’

At Mr Duff’s first Kirk Session meeting in October, he presented his vision of the church’s mission and proposed an Elders’ Conference to further discuss points raised. It was also agreed that communion services would be held on the first Sundays of February, June, September and November, with occasional ‘informal’ communions being held at other times (such as on Maundy Thursday).

RENOVATION OF 170 QUEEN’S DRIVE

The first few years of the new century at 170 Queen’s Drive were dominated by the planning and completion of a complete reconstruction of the church building. This was a vision which had been around for a long time, and would become a reality with the funds available following the sale of the Crosshill Queen’s Park property. As was mentioned previously, in 1990, Glasgow Presbytery had confirmed that the building at 170 Queen’s Drive would serve as the centre for mission in the Queen’s Park area. At the time, surveyors had suggested that it would cost at least £200,000 to bring the building up to an acceptable standard. Between 1990 and 1995, The Strathbungo Queen’s Park congregation managed to raise a remarkable £140,000 for repairs to the roof and gutters, and also for an upgrade to the kitchen.

The full upgrade of the building was planned to have three phases. Phase I comprised the completion of works on the roof and these were completed by 1998 at a cost of £100,000. In 1999, Phase II began. This involved work on the steeple, replacing badly weathered stones. As a final flourish, a new weather vane was added. The cost of this work was £125,000. So, before the union with Crosshill Queen’s Park, a great deal of work had already been done to ensure that the church fabric was fit for purpose. An application was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund to help with stonework, glazing, internal plastering and an upgrade of the toilets.

170 pre renovation

The sanctuary at 170 Queen’s Drive prior to renovation in 2004. Reproduced with the permission of the National Monuments Record of Scotland.

The newly-united Queen’s Park Parish Church then began planning for Phase III of the renovations. A Renovations Committee was appointed to take this further. Initially, the plans were fairly modest, involving only the area under the gallery and the church vestibule. However, a visit to St Andrew Blackadder Parish Church in North Berwick by a group of elders in early 2001 provided further inspiration and vision. There they saw a sanctuary that had been divided horizontally at the level of the gallery, thus creating two large spaces, a sanctuary upstairs and a hall and office space below. As a result, following much discussion over the following 18 months, on 18 November 2003, the Renovations Committee brought a proposal to the Kirk Session: ‘We should have a re-modelled sanctuary at the level of the current gallery, accessed by existing stairways and a new lift, with the present ground floor space being available for other purposes including community use.’

This proposal was adopted by 29 votes to seven, with two abstentions. When put to a meeting of the congregation shortly after, the voting was 55 for, 19 against, and five abstentions. This indicated that a considerable number of members had reservations. Presumably, there were anxieties that the project was too ambitious for a fairly small congregation, that the appeal for various grants would not be successful and that the congregation might be left with huge debts. However, the Renovations Committee were careful to ensure that this proposal would never put the congregation at financial risk. A large portion of the cost would be covered by the sale for residential flats of the former Crosshill Queen’s Park building for £405,000. In June 2005, the Law and Property Committee of Glasgow Presbytery recommended to Presbytery that the renovation plans be accepted.

Under the hammer 1

The sanctuary at 170 Queen’s Drive, without its pews, prior to the installation of the new, elevated floor.

In time, grants were received and the shortfall was reduced to £56,000. In November 2006, the Kirk Session agreed to a loan of £56,000 from the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland, to be repaid over a period of five years. The plan was that the floor of the sanctuary would have cushioned and movable chairs rather than pews (although the bench-style seating remained in what had been the gallery). A campaign was launched to purchase several chairs at a time and by the time of the official opening, a number more than sufficient had been acquired. This provided ‘the ordinary member in the pew’ with a greater sense of involvement in the work being done. The renovations were completed by October 2006 and the first service of communion in the new sanctuary was held on 5 November.

The removal of the organ pipes in the sanctuary at 170 Queen’s Drive had exposed all of the large east window. A large, yet modest wooden cross was suspended in the window and was underlit for emphasis. It was generally agreed that this added greatly to the appearance of the chancel. By the end of 2008, the painstaking artistic restoration of the Cottier frieze by artists Nagham Wylie and Brian McLaughlin was completed. Further furnishings for the chancel were discussed by the Kirk Session and suggestions were to be followed up.

It might be thought that the work and witness of the church at 170 Queen’s Drive would have been severely limited during the period of upheaval created by the programme of renovations, but this was certainly not the case. Several very important areas of outreach by our church were first launched during this time. But an additional problem arose in 2001, when the new minister, Mr Duff, suffered the first of a series of illnesses leading to his absence from duty for lengthy periods. In his absence, the Rev James Millar conducted worship, followed later by a reader, John Phillips.

Frieze restoration

Nagham Wylie uncovering the Cottier frieze at 170 Queen’s Drive.

170 post renovation

The sanctuary at 170 Queen’s Drive following the renovation.

At the time of union, the two churches used different versions of pew bibles: The Good News Bible in Crosshill Queen’s Park, and the Revised Standard Version in Strathbungo Queen’s Park. It was decided that the newly united congregation would use the New International Version (NIV), which meant that the church possessed a large number of bibles surplus to requirements. A large consignment went to Zimbabwe, and another to the Mercy Ship Anastasis, bound for Sierra Leone. There was an interesting extra development when Kirsty Macqueen, newly qualified to teach religious education, discovered that her school and others in West Lothian were lacking in bibles. Some of the bibles were donated to these schools. The situation caught the imagination of church members and £1,380 was raised, enabling some local schools to receive a gift of additional bibles.

In June 2002, a group of volunteers from Queen’s Park Parish Church undertook the task of providing a monthly service for residents of the Crossmyloof Resource Centre, a care home in the west end of the parish. At the time, a few residents were members of the church. This monthly service has continued ever since.

At the beginning of 2004 came a significant change in the Constitution of Queen’s Park Parish Church. From 1867, a Deacon’s Court, later re-named the Congregational Board, had been responsible for the church’s financial affairs. By 2004, it had become clear that there was considerable crossover in the work of Congregation Board and Kirk Session, with much unnecessary repetition. Glasgow Presbytery had recommended a change from this Model Constitution to a Unitary Constitution, which meant that the Congregational Board would cease to exist and the Kirk Session would become responsible for all aspects of church affairs. This change became effective early in 2004. Board members who were not elders were thanked for their services and the Congregational Board disbanded.

During this period, the two developments which have had the greatest influence on the life and work of the congregation were the establishment of Club 170 in 2002 and of the Lunch Stop in 2003.

CLUB 17O & THE LUNCH STOP

In April 2002, the Kirk Session held a Day Conference. This event sparked one the most successful areas of outreach sponsored by the congregation. It had been on the conscience of many that there were a significant number of people sleeping rough locally or seeking shelter in the Queen’s Park Hotel, which, despite its name, served as low-cost accommodation for the homeless. Once the issue was raised, there was very clear support for a proposal that the church should do something to address the situation.

A decision was taken to open the doors to the hall on Sunday afternoons from 5pm, beginning on Sunday, 5 May 2002. Inside, visitors would find a warm welcome as well as a meal of soup, sandwiches and a cake or fruit. Some local publicity brought an unexpectedly large number of visitors on the first day, which was a tangible indication of the reality of the need. Those who came covered a broad range of living situations. There were indeed a small number of rough sleepers, as well as those who lived in Queen’s Park Hotel and another similar hostel nearby. There was also an unexpectedly large number lived in rented property, especially those whose rent was paid by social services. The food shared was enjoyed and appreciated, but from very early on it became clear that the opportunity to meet together socially was equally valued – loneliness and isolation was a major problem for many of our new friends.

The title chosen for the Sunday afternoon gathering, ‘Club 170’, was intended to give those attending a sense of ownership, and this has grown in the years that followed. At each meeting, a short ‘word in season’ and prayer is offered. The Sunday evening service, which had been held at 6.30pm, was brought forward to 6.00pm in the hope that some of the visitors might attend. No pressure has ever been put on anyone to attend, but a significant number have done so and are now regarded as adherents (as well as some official members) within the congregation in every sense. As relationships have grown and developed it has become the custom that a number of Club 170 social events to take place each year: for example, the Burns Supper and the much-anticipated Christmas Dinner.

Club 170 remains open for 50 Sundays each year. During the Christmas and New Year holidays, special arrangements are put in place to ensure nobody is left wanting for food. Over the years, Club 170 has been much indebted to local supermarkets and other food outlets for supplies. The Club also has a collection service run by volunteers every Saturday afternoon to ensure that there is a sufficient amount of food for all who attend on the Sunday. Cash donations from members have always been very generous, as has the support given at fundraising events. The church at 170 Queen’s Drive has thanked and will continue to thank God for the vision of a few members back in 2002 that saw Club 170 become a reality. And the congregation and volunteers are committed to continue this endeavour so long as a need exists.

In September 2003, the Kirk Session at Queen’s Park approved the establishment of a weekly café or restaurant, open to the public, to serve home-made soup, sandwiches, toasties, salads and desserts. It was to be staffed by volunteers and open from 12 noon until 2pm each Tuesday (excluding holiday periods). The aim of this project was to offer a nutritious lunch at a reasonable price, and also to help raise the profile of the church in the community.

The Lunch Stop first opened on Tuesday, 16 September 2003, and has been open on Tuesdays from September until June ever since. As part of the wider church renovations at 170 Queen’s Drive, the church kitchen was totally modernised with the purchase of new equipment and, following regular inspections, it has passed all the requirements of Health and Safety. From the onset, the Lunch Stop has proven to be a great success. Most clients were, of course, from the congregation, but there have always been a significant number of others who just ‘dropped in’.

Although not one of its intended goals, the Lunch Stop has proved profitable and continues to support the church financially, as well as contributing to many charities, including ‘Send a Cow’, Mary’s Meals, the Lodging House Mission, Church House, the Mallard, the Mercy Ship and Help for Heroes.

The Kirk Session was much encouraged by the report of the Glasgow Presbytery Superintendence Committee of October 2006, which stated:

Queen’s Park: Here is a congregation rising to the challenges of ministry and mission in the 21st century. They are to be commended for the imaginative and creative ways that they have sought to continue to ‘build the church around the gifts of the people.’ The introduction of the Unitary Constitution some years ago has proved to be a very effective way of engaging over 100 people from across the congregation in 12 key areas of church life: Fabric, Hospitality, Pastoral, Mission, Ministry, Music and Drama, Finance, Admin, Youth, Education, and TTM (Time, Talents and Money).

In addition to this they have recognised the need to adapt their suite of building to better suit ministry and mission for the next generations and they are in the final stages of seeing an exciting vision and dream become a reality.  The leadership and congregation are to be commended for their perseverance, resilience and generosity I am seeing the refurbished project to this stage.

They continue to maintain an open door to the community through a number of projects which allow them to demonstrate one of their greatest strengths as a congregation, that of hospitality. This, when combined with their relevant and outward approach to mission, means that they are constantly seeking to serve the parish in ways that are true to the strong biblical and prayerful foundation at their heart.

In 2007, Daphne Ndlovu, an elder at Queen’s Park, mentioned that her home church, Njube United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, was experiencing financial difficulties. These difficulties were exacerbated by the crisis facing the economy of Zimbabwe. The most urgent problem was the state of the Njube Church roof itself.

Several members of Queen’s Park suggested that the church might be able to provide some assistance. And so began a project which became known to all as ‘Daphne’s Roof’. After a few months, a sum of £1,000 was raised and sent away to Bulawayo. The congregation at 170 Queen’s Drive received warm thanks from their brothers and sisters in Njube. The roofs of the Njube Church and a conference centre, which is used by the UCCSA, were duly repaired and remain in regular use.

By June 2009, Mr Duff’s lengthy struggle with health issues forced him to demit his charge as minister of Queen’s Park. He had been an enthusiastic supporter of the whole renovation project and was happy to be able to see it through to its conclusion. Although his was a relatively short ministry, during his tenure, Queen’s Park underwent many positive changes and he has left his mark on many people, both in the congregation and in the community. Mr Duff is also remembered for his powerful biblical preaching.

During this vacancy, Glasgow Presbytery appointed the Rev Calum Macdonald as Interim Moderator, and in the summer, pulpit supply was provided by John MacLeod, a retired banker and Church of Scotland reader. In September, Mr MacLeod was appointed as locum at Queen’s Park. He proved to be a very popular choice, remaining in post for nearly two years. The choir was also delighted when John’s wife Elizabeth joined their ranks.

On 16 February 2010, the tenth anniversary of the union between Strathbungo Queen’s Park and Crosshill Queen’s Park was noted by the Kirk Session at Queen’s Park. It was decided to mark the occasion by ten events or fundraising efforts. These attracted the attention and energy the congregation and proved to be very successful, especially the scheme where members were presented with £5 and given a few months to convert it into a larger sum. Through these efforts, £4,900 was raised and distributed between nine charities.

For many years, the church family at 170 Queen’s Drive has maintained a close friendship with the Well Multi-Cultural Resource Centre, a local charity that provides help and support to the diverse communities in South East Glasgow. At the May 2010 meeting of the Kirk Session, it was agreed to continue support for the Well, and the sum of £1,000 was pledged as a contribution for three years. Several members continue to volunteer with the Well into the present.

In early September 2010, the Nominating Committee at Queen’s Park agreed unanimously to bring the name of David Malcolm as sole nominee. Arrangements were made for him to preach as sole nominee on Sunday, 17 October. One obstacle remained, as a call could not be sustained until a manse was available. A group of four members of the Kirk Session were appointed to investigate and report back once they had identified a building which met the Church of Scotland requirements for a manse – no small task. In the meantime, the congregation had to dispose of the existing manse at 5 Alder Road.

A suitable property at Linndale Gardens, Castlemilk was identified and by 22 November 2010, the church’s offer on the property was accepted. Mr Malcolm was ordained and inducted to the charge of Queen’s Park Parish Church on 26 January 2011. He and his wife Donna moved into their new home almost immediately.

Prior to Mr Malcolm’s induction, a new communion table and lectern were dedicated at 170 Queen’s Drive. Shortly afterwards, the relatives of two much-loved former members, Charles (‘Charlie’) Russell and his wife, Agnes, offered to provide the church with a new baptismal font. The new font was dedicated on 30 September 2011. It should also be noted that the church features another kind of memorial to Charlie and Agnes. They first established a Thursday morning Coffee Club, which continues to operate more than 25 years on.

At the September 2012 meeting of the Kirk Session, Mr Malcolm introduced Steven Anderson, the National Director of Healing Rooms Scotland. Mr Anderson described the work of Healing Rooms and asked whether Queen’s Park could make space available for their work. Later, it was agreed to allocate space to Healing Rooms on Thursday mornings. This arrangement continued until May 2017, when Healing Rooms left for new centralised premises in the City Centre.

The last few years have been a time of great changes within the country, the parish and the Church of Scotland as a whole. Alongside the financial crisis of 2008, food poverty has been on a steady rise. As of 2017, there are more than 2,000 foodbanks operating within the United Kingdom. Within our locality, this demand is perhaps illustrated best by the fact that since 2011, 170 Queen’s Drive has been the base for a volunteer-led independent foodbank. It began during Mr Malcolm’s ministry. He writes,

I had the vision as I found that there were many coming to Club 170 who had very little throughout the week, also on pastoral visits I discovered there were others who didn’t come to Club 170 who were also in need. I had a burden on my heart to do something about it, and that’s where the Queen’s Park Foodbank came from.

When David and Donna Malcolm left Queen’s Park in 2013, Wendy Bradley took over as team leader of the foodbank. At that time, the foodbank were no specific operating hours, but this was quickly changed to each Thursday from 10am until 12 noon. Wendy writes,

There is a team of 13 volunteers (not all church members). Two or three of the team are on duty each week. The foodbank relies on donations from the congregation and local schools. Fundraising coffee mornings have also been held from time to time. Other foodbanks have also helped out on occasions when stock gets really low. A Facebook page for the foodbank was started which promotes the needs of the foodbank and which has generated donations. The truth is that the need is not going away. The number using our foodbank has doubled over the past few months (of 2017) and we believe that this represents only the tip of an iceberg.

THE MILLENNIUM AT DAISY STREET

In 1989, not long after Mr Bisek’s induction at Govanhill Trinity, the Velvet Revolution transformed Czechoslovakia into a liberal democracy. Four years later, Czechoslovakia split into the independent countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. By 1996, the door had opened for the Biseks to return to their homeland and Mr Bisek received the call to Spirolov in Prague. The post at Govanhill Trinity remained vacant until the Rev Sigrid Marten received the call in 1998.

Ms Marten’s ministry in Govanhill was short, though is remembered with fondness. In 2001, Govanhill Trinity was vacant once again. The post would be filled for the last time in 2006, by the Rev Lily McKinnon. It was around this time that the congregation moved their Sunday morning services from the sanctuary to the large hall in order to save money on heating expenses (the large sanctuary being able to seat some 2,000 people, an ambitious size even upon its construction in 1880).

Not long after her induction to Govanhill Trinity, Mrs McKinnon experienced struggles with her health. Stuart Bruce, a layman and elder at Stamperland Parish Church and a friend of Mrs McKinnon’s, began to cover services and pastoral duties as an assistant. For nearly a decade, Mr Bruce served as something of a ‘de facto minister’ at Daisy Street, building close relationships with members of the congregation and the community. Despite the wrapping up of various church organisations, the ministry of Govanhill Trinity continued to evolve. In 2009, the Grace & Flavour Cafe opened its doors for the first time. Beginning with 23 volunteers from the church, the cafe was established as an outreach to the local community, offering a warm welcome as well as hot and cold drinks, homemade soup, sandwiches, toasties, as well as an array of scones, cakes and tray bakes.

Over the coming years, the Grace & Flavour Cafe continued to flourish, raising funds for many different projects, both within and outwith the church.

Grace & Flavour

The Grace & Flavour Cafe.

 


Introduction
1. Our Early History
2. The Late 19th Century: a Period of Rapid Growth
3. Into the 20th Century
4. The Great War & its Aftermath
5. A Second World War
6. The Post-War Era
7. The Late 20th Century
8. The Millennium
9. Queen’s Park Govanhill
Conclusion: Beyond 150 at 170
Bibliography