Church Recording is Rewarding!

Lesley Cumming, Scotland’s Churches Trust Volunteer

17 August 2022

Monday 15th August was a memorable day.  Not because of the torrential rain but because I spent the day at Greenside Church as a volunteer with Scotland’s Churches Trust.  Pandemic restrictions called a halt to SCT’s Church Recording Project but now we’re back in action!

Church recording is a fascinating activity.   I have been visiting churches for many years admiring the architecture and stained glass but recording volunteers are asked to really look at the detail of each fixture and fitting, take photos and write a short description.  That’s just another wooden Lectern – Oh wait a minute, lift up the Lectern Fall and there’s a brass plaque with an inscription.  Brass eagle lecterns are a common sight in churches but look closely and there’s an inscription which tells me this lectern was gifted to the church to celebrate its centenary.

The claw of one of two brass eagle lecterns in Greenside Parish Church

Photograph by Adam Cumming

Church recording can also be quite an emotional activity.  It’s hard to explain but the former worshippers of a church really come alive through the inscriptions and dedications, while War Memorials always bring a lump to my throat.  Greenside staff gave us a very warm welcome and their love and care for their church building and community was obvious.  Like many other Church of Scotland congregations they are, however, facing an uncertain future with many churches being closed.

Church Recording in Progress

Photograph by Scotland’s Churches Trust

“Church recording can also be quite an emotional activity…”

Why do I volunteer?  Well the results of all SCT’s church recording sessions will be written up and made available through Historic Environment Scotland. 

I like to think that in 30 or 40 years’ time someone might be using this information to find out more about an ancestor or to gain an appreciation of the part churches played in their local community.

Scotland’s religious buildings are currently experiencing a period of change unseen since the mid-19th century. Several hundred of the country’s incredible and historic churches are earmarked for closure in the coming months and years.

With the support of Historic Environment Scotland, Scotland’s Churches Trust has re-launched its initiative to record the interior contents of as many of these churches as possible before these items are dispersed and lost forever.

Please watch our brief video below and do drop our director a line if you would like to volunteer a few hours to help record this important facet of multi-generational cultural heritage in your local area.