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Church of Scotland
UK News

Church reopens in centre of regeneration project symbolising rebirth of community

by Tola Mbakwe

St Rollox Church is the first public space to open in Sighthill in Glasgow after the local authority forced it to move in order to redevelop the area for new housing.

The church said the new building is a flexible and versatile, multi-purpose space that symbolises the "rebirth" of the area.

Rev Jane Howitt, minister of St Rollox Church, said: "We are hugely excited.

"It is a very light and airy facility in the heart of a new and growing community, a place where everyone is welcome and can call home."

The district in the north of the city is currently being transformed through an ambitious £250 million regeneration project - the largest in the UK outside of London.

The long awaited opening on Sunday ended a tumultuous period for the congregation who were told in 2014 that they had to leave their old church building on Fountainwell Road half a mile away.

It was subject to a compulsory purchase order by Glasgow City Council which needed the land to build a new access road to Sighthill, where hundreds of new homes, a new school and shops are being built.

Described as a "real asset" to the community, the new building construction was funded by the local authority and furnished by the Church of Scotland.

The congregation, one of the most diverse in Scotland because 85 per cent of people who attend were born outside the UK and see themselves as 'New Scots', have been meeting in temporary accommodation next to the new building since November 2018.

Rev Jane Howitt told Premier she's excited about the different ways the church will reach people in the area.

"There is no other facility like that in the community.

"There will be different activities running out of the church. At moment we have a particular ministry to asylum seekers and refugees. We help people learn English sewing classes. We have sewing classes to help mostly ladies to pick up a skill that they can then use elsewhere.

"There's an advice centre that's open to everybody who's needing some advice about benefits and housing. There's also some food provision for those who are struggling to make ends meet."

Rev Howitt said the church plans to do even more and is glad it church will be the first point of contact for people moving into homes nearby.

"There are another 800 homes being built in Sighthill and it is lovely to know that the church is already here and we will continue to be very much connected to what is happening socially in our community," she added.

"God is eternal and the church represents something of stability in this community where there has been so much change."

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