Copyright 2021 Église Presbytérienne St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Québec, QC, Canada.
Église Presbytérienne St. Andrew's, Québec, QC
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Quebec City, QC
( Français au bas / French below )
St. Andrew's transformation
MONTREAL, September 9, 2020 -- It’s a tough time for churches—not just COVID-19, but the modern era, with church attendance declining for decades and buildings aging.
Now consider trying to shore up support while also being a Presbyterian church founded by Scots in the heart of old Quebec City.
But a historic English-speaking congregation in the provincial capital has found a way—it hopes—to keep their church not only alive but flourishing, indefinitely.
St. Andrew’s Church used to be an important meeting place in the heart of the old city.
“There was room for maybe 300 people,” said Guy Morriset, who is on the St. Andrew’s board of directors.
Scottish soldiers who fought on the Plains of Abraham founded the congregation in 1759, and then the church, beginning construction in 1810.
After deciding to stay in Quebec, the “highlanders” petitioned King George III to grant them the land to build upon. It became the first Presbyterian church of Scottish origin in all of Canada.
St. Andrew’s still has spectacular stained-glass windows, some of them dating back to the 1800s.
“The soldiers would be in the balconies and the families would be down on the ground floor,” said Morriset.
Its bells have rung out over Quebec City ever since—until last year. Like so many other churches, it had trouble paying its repair bills and the board had considered moving to a different building.
Then it came up with a Hail Mary idea. Over the last nine months, the building was completely renovated inside, stripped down to the stones.
When the work is finished by around December, it’ll be transformed, not just in look and in purpose.
St. Andrew’s will be a church on Sundays, but during the rest of the week it will open its doors to the rest of the community for various events such as meetings or receptions.
“Everything will be white with a big candelabra,” said Cynthia Hovington of the company Kamai Project Management, which partnered with the church to do the renos, which cost nearly $1 million, and to manage the booking system.
Aside from helping pay the bills, this is a fitting use for the 210-year-old building, says its minister.
“The building will be used by the community,” said Rev. Dr. Katherine Burgess.
“I think that's more important, in some ways, because it brings the community into the Church.”
In a city full of small heritage buildings—at least within the walls of old Quebec City—the church will be one of the only spaces aside from the Chateau Frontenac that can fit 250 people.
But they also hope that it’s a model that can protect the building, its congregation and its history with no further crises.
“St Andrew's now, we hope, will never close,” said Burgess.
St. Andrew's Stained Glass
The windows of the church provide a fine example of 19th century stained glass. Only two of the windows, located in the ceiling, are of the 20th century. The four corner windows of the church which are shown first are the original ones. Deceptive in their seeming simplicity, we observe the complexity of Celtic scroll work along with the St. Andrew's cross in the middle of some of the circles. The circle motif in Celtic scroll work is taken by most observers to be a symbol of eternity, that is without beginning or end, and hence the symbol of God. Many will enjoy trying to decipher the meaning of the symbols in these windows.
Les vitraux de St. Andrew's
Les fenêtres de l'église sont un bel exemple de vitrail du 19ème siècle. Seulement deux des fenêtres, situées dans le plafond, sont du 20ème siècle. Les fenêtres aux quatre coins de l'église (premières photos) sont celles d'origine. Malgré leur apparente simplicité, nous pouvons remarquer une certaine complexité dans le détail des volutes celtiques ainsi que la présence de la croix de Saint-André au milieu de certains des cercles. Ce motif récurrent de cercles est interprété par la plupart des observateurs comme un symbole de l'éternité, qui est sans commencement ni fin, et est donc le symbole de Dieu. Certains auront du plaisir à essayer de déchiffrer la signification de ces symboles.
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