Easterhouse Baptist Church recently celebrated the opening of its £320,000 annexe with a week of services and open-door events to introduce community leaders, neighbours and congregation to the facility.
The extension to the landmark church, which sits at the junction of the M8 motorway and Westerhouse Road, adds a substantial kitchen and dining/function area, a brightly decorated, well-equipped crèche and a general purpose hall.
Minister Sandy Weddell, who arrived in Easterhouse as a trainee in 1979 and succeeded Jim Martin, threw open the doors of his church to guests including John Mason, Westminster MP for Glasgow East, who attends Sandy’s services and Glasgow Baillieston MSP Margaret Curran.
Looking back on a decade-long campaign to extend the church, Sandy observed that it was the determination of his congregation that brought the plan to fruition.
‘By and large, people just gave and gave,’ he said. ‘Once we firmed up our costs, people just started giving.They did diets, sponsored walks - we’ve had everything under the sun … it’s been sacrificial giving in some cases.
‘We have our ordinary offering, but we also have folk who have convenanted large sums of money for this.’
Such was the Baptist congregation’s determination to succeed that 72% of the funding for the new annexe was raised from within. Other finance came from the wider Baptist fellowship, as well as sympathetic trust funds and foundations.
In all, the church raised nearly £380,000 for the extension and remedial work to the original building.
While the Baptist community in Easterhouse celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, Sandy sees his renewed church as an opportunity for the area rather than a legacy of his ministry.
very soon, churches might be one of the very public facilities in an area.
The church runs a mother-and-toddler group. It employs a full-time children’s worker, Christine Brown. A breakfast club and a 12-step programme are also part of it does.
However, a lot of good initiatives weren’t ‘sexy’ enough for government funding, Sandy complained. ‘They don’t attract the help they need.’ But churches like Easterhouse Baptist are keen to help in any way they can.
Those schemes are at the heart of changing a community and ‘scratch where the people itch’, he said.
‘There might be a time when you can’t afford to open schools for lets. That’s quite conceivable. I see places like this as an oasis that can be used by different groups and it’s my hope that, eventually, this will become a place for the entire community.’