What is the need for www.maintainyourchurch.org.uk?
It has been created, first and foremost, out of economic necessity.
The cost of maintaining and repairing Scotland's church buildings is of huge significance to all those responsible for and interested in their upkeep, and particularly to the congregations using them as focal points for their worship and which have the main responsibility for their maintenance. It is a cost that inevitably limits the resources otherwise available for the spiritual life of the congregation and for all the other activities central to the Church's mission.
Nor, without good management, will these costs diminish. In addition to inevitable inflation, the risk of expensive storm damage to our buildings, particularly those in the west and north, is only predicted to increase through effects of global warming.
Also greatly concerned are their Central Governing Bodies and those contributing generously from outside to church building repair costs, including Historic Scotland, Lottery Funds and many Charities. The problem must, indeed, dismay everyone who values our church buildings as living entities within their communities and as an irreplaceable part of our nation's cultural and artistic heritage.
The information provided is therefore aimed to encourage a 'stitch in time' attitude by all concerned and so to prevent the vast spending on repair and renewal that has been incurred over recent years through the neglect of basic maintenance and the use of wrong and damaging repair techniques.
Who will benefit?
The website has been developed with one specific audience in mind, the fabric and property committees of local congregations of all denominations. They are in the front line of the battle to maintain their church buildings in good and welcoming condition.
But we hope that it will also be of use to their ministers and priests, most of whom will serve more than one congregation during their working lives and will need assurance that the appropriate lay members are familiar with the good 'stitch in time' principles and practice set out in its programme.
Church architects and other professional specialists should also welcome it, knowing that their services are not meant to be supplanted but rather that they will more often be involved in all the critical advice and supervision that only they can provide.
It may also be of value to owners and managers of former church buildings now in use for secular purposes since the main structures and many other physical features will usually remain as before.
The website is not designed to guide the maintenance and repair of other church property such as halls and manses which normally require less specialised knowledge, although much of the advice will be relevant and the basic principles remain the same.
Who is responsible for this website?
It has been developed under the auspices of a Steering Group of representative members of the Church of Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland and Historic Scotland which have provided equal funding for the project, together with Professor John Hume (formerly Historic Scotland's Chief Inspector of Historic Buildings) and John Gerrard (formerly Technical Director, The Scottish Civic Trust), who are also members of a Technical Panel responsible for providing and editing the practical content. Rebecca Cadie, Rosalind Taylor, Tom Elder and Rev. James Jack, Architects, Roger Curtis, Historic Scotland and Andrew Nicoll (Scottish Catholic Archive) have all contributed generously in time and expertise, as have Tim Parker and Keith Mason, Assistant Secretaries to the Church of Scotland General Trustees. John Hume's line drawings embellish the text and he also compiled the Glossary.
Much initial support and advice was provided by Glasgow Metropolitan College and The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. David Martin (formerly Head of Conservation, Glasgow City Council) greatly helped to initiate the project and to prepare the groundwork of the programme.
HMG.NET Ltd designed, implemented and hosts this content-managed website.
No website such as this will be perfect from the start. It will, necessarily, always be under development. Which is why a Discussion Forum facility has been included so that users can contribute from their own experience of looking after our church buildings and can learn from one another as well as offering more material to keep the programme relevant and up to date.
Contributions from outwith Scotland will always be welcome, with the proviso that building characteristics, terms, traditions and regulations may not be entirely the same and that the procedures set out by church authorities may also differ in many respects.
The content of the website will be augmented and updated from the Church of Scotland's Edinburgh headquarters and the Scottish Catholic Archives.