Half of St Columba’s pews could be removed and sold

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Rev Graeme Glover, of St Columba’s in Midvale Road, said that the changes were aimed at making the facility more accessible both to its current congregation and their children. The church was built in 1859.

Mr Glover added that the idea had been a ‘sensitive’ one but added that his congregation had come to an agreement and had decided to press ahead with lodging a planning application.

‘So we have had 150 years in that church and what we have been trying to do is make it more open to the community by having things like tea and coffee mornings on Saturdays,’ he said.

‘We have spent quite a lot of time looking at the mission of the church to love God and love thy neighbour and we still do that but we need to do it in a different way. By removing some of the pews we can make it more open with a nice space and on Sunday we could have a more comfortable space. I think the church has recognised that we need to adapt. In terms of finances, we do not have an issue.

‘This plan is more about allowing the church to be more active and be a place for the people living around Midvale Road, instead of having the building hindering us.’

During a major redevelopment of the Town Church in 2010, all of its 140-year-old pews were deemed uncomfortable and surplus to requirements and were sold off.

Mr Glover says that if he does obtain planning permission to remove the pews, they could also be put up for sale.

‘I believe they should be but I do not yet know that for certain. I think we need to talk about it but I would not want them just to be destroyed.’

If plans receive approval, eight rows of the current 18 rows of pews could be removed. Mr Glover added that the majority of churchgoers supported him over the plans.

‘We did have a vote on this and I think the ratio was five to one but that one is still important to us. I recognise that we have to look after our heritage and this is a big step for us,’ he said.

‘It takes a lot of courage from the congregation to do this.

‘People are used to things and they realise that this is not just for them but also their kids who are coming through and for the people who are not there yet.’

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