A man whose family has connections with Drumcree Parish Church has pledged his support for the rector, the Rev Gary Galway, following last week’s story of divisions within the congregation regarding future plans.
And he responded to some of the points raised in a number of letters to the Portadown Times. These claimed the changes would destroy the character of the ancient building, and questioned the cost of some of the plans.
The plans include the purchase of land for a new car park, made possible by a £200,000 anonymous donation from a parishioner, extension of the graveyard, erection of a linkway between the church and parochial hall, expansion of the stage, biomass heating system and removal of the pews to accommodate underfloor heating pipes.
Mr Galway said the plans, approved by the Select Vestry, were intended to improve safety and comfort and build a church “fit for future generations”.
He pointed out that parishioners currently have to park on the roadside and a car park would greatly improve safety.
The man, who did not wish to be named, agreed. He said, “There is a real safety issue at Drumcree, especially for the children. A deal over the car park was originally looked at years ago but it was never clinched.
“Gary has worked at this for years to get it to this point, and this criticism of him and the Select Vestry is soul-destroying. Whose head will it be on if a child is killed coming out of the parochial hall?
“I have the utmost regard for Gary Galway. His intentions are so good for that church.
“He has taken Drumcree into the 21st century.
“I know there is a small crowd who do not like his style of worship but he is trying to bring the young people into the church.”
The Portadown Times understands there has been a difference in opinion in the church for some time between the more traditional members, and what they describe as ‘evangelical’ elements introduced by Mr Galway, and parishioners who are happy to see the church move with the times.
Addressing the criticism of plans to install a biomass boiler, he said, “At the outset, you only have the equipment to buy and the installation cost. You have no fuel costs for 20 years.
“The heating is kept running and I know that can be difficult for the older generation to get their head around this. But the church is in better repair because the dampness is kept out so you have lower maintenance costs in the long run for the church and the hall.”
He added, “The church is for hearing the word of the Lord. It is not for disputes. I don’t want to see this happening at Drumcree. There are such nice people and a lovely setting. It’s an excellent church which is ideal for families.”