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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: Before the Office Opens

Looking Back

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Friday March 5 2020

Looking Back: Before the Office Opens

A 1957 account of an experiment in providing daily morning church services for workers in Glasgow

Before the Office Opens...


EVERY week-day morning, at 8.30 a.m. to be exact, there rises above the roar of traffic in the heart of Glasgow the sound of a church bell. East, west, north and south hurry thousands of Glaswegians to office, shop, bench and factory.

The dark caverns of Queen Street Station erupts streams of office workers as trains arrive every few minutes. Strap-hanging thousands sway as the buses swing round the dark bulk of St. George’s Tron Church.

Still the bell rings out, and here and there figures detach themselves from the anonymous throng and slip into the church. Again to be more precise, between two and three hundred are seated by 8.40 a.m. – every morning.

At the door are elders, the church officer is in attendance, the organist is in his place – every morning.

And for fifteen minutes, the Rev. Tom Allan leads a simple act of worship. A hymn, reading, two-minute talk, prayer and the doxology, and so out again to the world of business. Bank clerks, typists, shop assistants, a few figures in dungarees.

What does it mean to them. I asked them. “I feel better.” “I’m more able to face up to the day.” “It makes all the difference in the office.”

A barber who works nearby said, “I go nearly every morning.” He’s not a church member. A coffee-room waitress remarked, “We’re all talking about it in here. I’d like to go but I start work at 8.30. Maybe we’ll be able to re-arrange shifts.”

Parish Mission

But the work-bound multitudes who pass St. George’s Tron each morning are only one of the “targets” of Mr. Allan’s ministry. The other is the resident population of the parish. There are upwards of 2,500 people actually living in the area. Already members of the congregation have carried out a parish mission, and discovered that a third of that number have no church connection, and so even in the heart of a great city the pattern of the traditional parish kirk is taking shape.

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