It is a long process following a dream, believing in a vision.
At St Matthew’s Church of Scotland in Perth, we had long had the dream that everyone in our congregation would enter our church by the front door. Our church was built in 1871 and, if you used a wheelchair or had mobility problems or children in a pushchair and found the front steps a challenge; you had to use the side door entrance.
It took seven long years of planning and fundraising to achieve our dream, our vision of a front door open to all. It was therefore fitting that our Elder and Disability Advisor to Perth Presbytery, John Spence, was the person to cut the ribbon and enter first through the front door when our refurbishment was completed in November 2016.
Of course, we took the opportunity to replace the pews and provide flexible seating so that wheelchair users, in particular, could sit where they wanted in our church and not just in the “designated” space where there was a cutout from the pew.
We also took the opportunity to put in a disabled toilet and a café at the front of the church, as well as new heating and lighting and Audio Visual systems and glass doors that open automatically.
But the vision was that our church, any church, should welcome all equally with no-one left feeling like a second-class citizen – a vision I would urge all churches to follow!
Fiona Bruce Session Clerk