Wowza, Wowza, Wowza!!! What a rich variety of colours, cultures, characters, callings and creativity, oozes from and overflows this Glesga World Church: St Rollox Parish Church of Scotland. Around 50% of Sighthill tenants are asylum seekers or refugees, of which many now call St Rollox their spiritual home, community heart and caring cause to join in with. Their mission statement is ‘To Know Jesus and Make Him Known’ and they clearly demonstrate the Love and Presence of Christ through down-to-earth service. Michael Martin, former speaker of the House of Commons, has said, “…a great deal of goodness comes out of St. Rollox Church…”
Some St Rollox friends visited Fullarton Connexions during the planning of their new build, so Dorothy and I had the joy of joining St Rollox and other visitors yesterday for an afternoon of celebration and dedication, as Rt Rev Colin Sinclair declared the new church and community hub open (though there’s still work to be done before it really opens).
The name St Rollox didn’t derive from St Rolex, patron saint of ‘good time keeping’, but a compulsory purchase of their last buildings (actually their 3rd sanctuary since their 1855 fellowship start) was timely in giving the financial ‘punty-up’, which The General Trustees and other funders joined, to allow this thriving church family to dream big and fashion a flexible centre for worship, work and witness, a launchpad for the Love and Life of Christ.
For centuries the name of St. Rollox was associated with the area formerly known as Garngad (now Royston). A chapel in the name of St Roch (a saint, known for helping and healing people) was built around 1506 and drew many afflicted seeking relief when plague broke out in the early 1500’s. St Roch’s is thought to be the root of St Rollox. Praise God this rich history and heritage of Christian Faith, Hope and Love continues in and through the old and new Scots gathered from, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Scotland, Syria & Zimbabwe. It was moving to see these dear people dance down the aisle to their chosen praise songs to hand the moderator their national flag.
Wowza, Wowza, Wowza! Being born in Nigeria, I nearly joined the Nigerians’ dance. I marvelled at how God is uniting these people in worship, fellowship and service. ‘knowing Jesus and making Him known!’ I pride ourselves at Fullarton in being a 6-generation church, from babies to high 90’s and all ages in between, but we don’t have anything near the international diversity of St Rollox. To celebrate and trust diversity requires much grace, patience and determination, but it leads to a Unity and Synergy which positively transforms individuals, families, communities and nations. Distrusting diversity leaves you with a dry, boring uniformity which tends to shrivel and cramp new life and adventure.
I’m thrilled at what God is doing through Rev Jane Howitt and the good people of Sighthill, “Rock on St Rollox!” a timely call to our nation and churches to embrace world neighbours and let them show us how to better ‘Know Jesus and Make Him Known!’ As someone yesterday said, “Hats off to the past, coats off to the future!”