Home Letters Let us preserve heritage church at Christianburg
Preserving churches that are already old brings interest to the people who even aren’t part of the religion.
One such old church is the St Matthew’s Church at Christianburg, Linden, Region 10. It was constructed by the Presbyterians, and was officially opened on November 25, 1898. It was intended to serve the religious needs of the ever-growing population in the then little town known as Christianburg.
This magnificent structure still stands today, after 123 years of servicing the community of Christianburg, and it once presented a staggered programme of heritage, arts and cultural events throughout the years, with regular community events representing the rich history on which St Matthew’s was built.
St Matthew’s church has played a very important role in the cultural and social development of the Christianburg community and Wismar in general. This single-storey, low-suspended colonial building that faces the Demerara River requires our attention to preserve some of its rich architectural features, like its high-pitched roofs, bell tower, pointed arched windows with tracery, and rose window.
I recently visited the church to attend my aunt’s funeral, and was disappointed at the condition the church was left in by the construction firm contracted to build the new primary school in the churchyard. Several sections of the church that were demolished to accommodate the newly-built Christianburg Primary remained in the same demolished condition despite the completion of the school. One would not believe this is the same church referred to as a Linden heritage and monumental landmark that is showcased to visitors in the National Trust of Guyana’s brochure.
It is clear that the firm that constructed the new school building in the church yard disgraced the engineering fraternity when it left the building and churchyard in such a dilapidated state of disrepair and ruin as a result of neglect.
Can one imagine this church is left without a septic tank, with only a 55-gallon plastic drum attached to the toilet as the waste disposal unit (septic tank)?
All the potable water lines were disconnected from the church building, leaving the structure without any access to potable water during a time when hand washing is essential to combat the COVID-19 virus.
One has to use a bucket of water when one is required to flush the toilet; this is a sad event in this modern time of technology.
The fencing still remains torn down in areas that were used by the contractor’s logistical transportation team during the project.
One is left to question the integrity and quality of work being done by some contractors on projects, and the inspection methods and processes being followed to verify the completion of a project.
What is so blatant is that there’s no right-away access to the burial ground other that through the school’s play pen, which is frustrating for church members.
According to the church elders, these issues were brought to the attention of the contractor, who has not responded to their calls.
I am requesting the National Trust of Guyana to urgently review the present condition of this historic landmark at Christianburg. Society seemingly has this belief that only a personal or national tragedy can cause a major shift in people’s regard of churches. At that time, people flock to churches in droves. There is something about churches that society finds comforting in times of tragedy and hardship. This always fascinates me, because the media and general public embrace church or (the idea of church) during a time of crisis; but in times of peace and prosperity, the church seems to become irrelevant. Regardless of this double- standard, the church keeps people grounded, flushing out the burden of life by providing a bedrock of faith and answers to humanity’s deepest needs.
After 123 years of servicing the Christianburg community in Region 10, I believe that church’s contribution to the community in so many ways justifies greater Government intervention and funding in this time of need, and the matter should be addressed between the church leaders, the regional community leaders, and the community in general.