IT has withstood the horrors of the Blitz and remained a constant amid a rapidly changing landscape in Clydebank – but now one of the town’s historic churches could be facing its greatest challenge yet.

The congregation at Kilbowie St Andrew’s Parish Church are on a mission to keep their church open after proposals to close the building were revealed.

Kilbowie St Andrew’s Parish Church is one of a number of churches across Scotland facing possible closure as part of a mission plan which is being developed by Clyde Presbytery – a group of churches representing all of the local congregations on both sides of the lower River Clyde.

Members of the church have expressed their concerns about the building “disappearing”, particularly with its prominent links to the Clydebank Blitz.

Clydebank Post:

Derek Smith, session clerk at Kilbowie St Andrew’s, said: “When the congregation heard the news they weren’t happy.

“The church is in an ideal location and the people who made the decision to propose to close it stated that Kilbowie St Andrew’s was ideally situated with access to buses, trains and it’s also on a main road in the town.

“The problem with Kilbowie St Andrew’s is that we’ll need quite a bit of work done and that’s what the proposal was based on.

“I think there are 60 churches that are part of Clyde Presbytery and the Church of Scotland needs to get the number down to 40 and even then there’s still not enough ministers at the moment.

“We have been told by professionals that our work is not a danger to the building but it needs to be done and that grants could be available.”

Kilbowie St Andrew’s is currently home to one of Scotland’s only Blitz memorials, the Blitz Chapel and it is a “surviving witness to the events of the Blitz”.

As part of the church’s centenary celebrations in 1997, the congregation joined together to establish the Blitz Chapel within the building.

They commissioned a memorial stained glass window and had a book created with the names of all those who lost their lives during the two nights of bombing on March 13 and 14, 1941.

The church was also gifted with a triptych painting portraying images of the Blitz created by well-known local artist Tom McKendrick.

Derek added: “The Blitz is quite an important thing in Clydebank as far as we’re all concerned.

"The number of people in Clydebank who died during the two nights of bombing was quite high and the damage done to the town, because of its size, was a lot worse than areas like London, Coventry, and Liverpool who also suffered.

“The church means a lot to a lot of people. I’ve stayed in Clydebank all my days just along from the church and I’m now 77 so I definitely don’t want to see it disappear.”

Carol Ross, a member of the congregation, said: “It is our collective duty to remember our community’s loss and the most appropriate and significant place to do that is within Kilbowie St Andrew’s Church.”

The congregation appealed to Clyde Presbytery at a meeting held on Tuesday, November 22 to keep the church open and it is understood they are expecting to hear a decision on the matter in February.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “The Presbytery of Clyde is in the process of developing a mission plan which will determine how limited resources are allocated to congregations over a five-year period.

“Change is necessary in order to deliver sustainable and realistic new expressions of ministry and effectively deliver Jesus’ call to service and discipleship.

“The plan seeks to ensure well-equipped spaces are in the right places and to provide a roadmap to the future.

“No final decisions have been taken as this work is in progress and subject to change.”

The consultation process remains ongoing with local congregations and a draft mission plan will be submitted to the Church of Scotland’s Faith Nurture Form and General Trustees.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, West Dunbartonshire MP, said: “Having met recently with members of the congregation at Kilbowie St Andrew’s, I know it’s a shock to many that the church has been earmarked for closure.

“Kilbowie St Andrew’s Church is of historic importance to the people of Clydebank. As the only Church of Scotland building here to survive the Blitz bombings, it’s also at the heart of our community’s memorial services after more than 80 years.

“I believe it’s imperative that Clydebank’s Blitz Chapel of Remembrance and Reflection is preserved for future generations.

“It’s difficult to hear the Clyde Presbytery is having to consider closing so many local churches. These aren’t just places of worship, they’re hubs of our communities.

“I fully support the congregations in their efforts to save these historic buildings from closure.”

Marie McNair, Clydebank’s MSP, added: “I have been contacted by a number of constituents expressing concern regarding the proposed closure of Kilbowie St Andrews in Central Clydebank.

“I have made these concerns known to the Clyde Presbytery. The church holds significant importance to the history of our town. It survived the Blitz and associated with this is the memorial chapel.

“The Blitz chapel was rededicated in 1997 when it was moved from Clydebank town hall to the current location.

"The role the church plays within the community is significant. It is at the heart of the remembrance services each March and its closure would be a real blow to our town.”