Alloa church led by former Hollywood agent hailed at Holyrood

A landmark church in Clackmannanshire has been applauded for “nurturing tolerance, understanding and belonging” in the community it serves.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alexander Stewart expressed admiration for office bearers at St Mungo’s Parish Church in Alloa, which he described as the "hub" of the town.

He said it was vital that the Scottish Parliament highlighted all the good work being carried out by Church of Scotland congregations across the country.

St Mungo's Parish Church is led by Rev Sang Cha, a former Hollywood actors agent who swapped a multi-million dollar celebrity lifestyle for the pulpit in 2011.

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Renovation - St Mungo's Parish Church. Inset -Rev Sang Cha

Conservation

A total of 16 MSPs have signed a motion lodged at Holyrood which welcomes a 19-week conservation project currently underway at the historic building, which will soon celebrate its 200th anniversary in its current guise.

Repairs are being carried out to the neo-perpendicular Gothic building, Session House and Porch roofs, external walls and a number of internal alterations are being made.

A ramp to give comparatively easy access to the Session House, kitchen, minister's vestry and additional toilets to those using wheelchairs or pushing buggies and prams has been installed.

The motion states: “The parliament welcomes the news that St Mungo's Parish Church in Alloa is to be fitted with a new stained glass window ahead of its 200th anniversary in in 2019.”

It noted that it will be installed by O-I glassworks and symbolise the journey that the church has made and the importance of the River Forth and glass-making industry to the town.

The church, which has a rectangular plan with low square towers at each angle, has received £248,000 in Heritage Lottery funding.

The initial designs for the window are expected to be ready by the end of this year with installation complete in early 2018.

Ruins of the original church, which dates back to the 16th century and named after the patron saint and founder of Glasgow, lie around 300 yards away from the existing building.

Charismatic

Mr Stewart said St Mungo’s Parish Church “means so much” to Alloa.

“It is the hub of the community and is instrumental in encouraging and nurturing tolerance, understanding and belonging,” added the Conservative MSP.

“Led by a minister who is prepared to get out and engage with the community, Rev Sang Cha is immensely charismatic and engaging.

“This is immediately apparent when you first meet him.

“Under his leadership, St Mungo’s actively fosters this sense of sanctuary, support and belonging which I believe is essential in maintaining, retaining and sustaining the church’s popularity within the community.”

Beacon of light

South Korean-born Mr Cha, said he was “humbled” that the historic church, which has a 207ft spire, has been recognised in the Scottish Parliament.

"We are pleased that the work of the conservation project is now under way with the total amount of £600,000 having been secured in the last two years,” he added.

“As a pre-Reformation church, St. Mungo's has served as a beacon of light not only for Alloa, but for the Wee County.

“I cannot say it often enough - we may be the smallest county, but we are good one too.”

Bible

Mr Cha is the first Korean to be ordained by the Church of Scotland, 100 years after the New Testament was translated into his native language by Kirk missionary, Rev Dr John Ross.

Dr Ross, who was an elder at Mayfield Salisbury Church of Scotland in Edinburgh and is buried in the city, is regarded as the Father of the Korean church.