190-year-old St John’s needs help with repairs

The St John’s Church building turns 190 in July, and the congregation hopes to raise funds to do much-need repairs and maintenance. Pictured are church member Kathy de Smidt and Reverend Jeremy Jobling. PICTURE: Janice Matthews

Members of the St John’s Church in Wynberg are appealing to the public to help maintain the 190-year-old heritage building, which they say is in great need of repair.

The church was consecrated on July 19, 1834, according to the church’s priest, Reverend Jeremy Jobling, and this year, the congregation is celebrating the 190th anniversary of that occasion by asking the public to contribute to the repair and maintenance of the church buildings; help with gardening; share stories and photos about the church’s history; and support the church’s market day, high tea and heritage-dinner fund-raisers.

Also on the property are a hall that houses offices and archives, a children’s church and youth room, a cottage with some offices, and the rectory.

According to Reverend Jobling, the church has been quoted R150 000 to repair leaks in the roof and gutters that are causing damage to inner walls, but heritage-building specialists have been consulted to assess the full extent of the maintenance needed.

“We had particularly bad winter rain last year; a lot of wet came into the church,” Reverend Jobling said.

A church newsletter making the heritage appeal notes: “It is a daunting task maintaining, caring for and developing all that is entrusted to us. As we look back on the history of St John’s, we realise that this place is precious to many people around the world, who grew up as part of the St John’s community, were baptised, married or where family members had their funerals.”

According to Reverend Jobling, several schools and community organisations use the church’s facilities, and he would like to see more of that so that the community sees the church as “a place where we can engage with the community, helping them discover that here is a place of refuge and safety; here is a place where things are on offer for you and a place to explore your faith”.

Church member Kathy de Smidt said: “Our heritage is not about just preserving our buildings but in valuing and passing on good things to the next generation. We are also called to develop our space for the use of the current and future generations – our children and young people – as they make history here.

“We also want to make part of our heritage appeal doing what we can for our youth group centre which is in need of refurbishment.”

To share your bit of church history or support the heritage appeal, email Reverend Jeremy Jobling at jeremy@stjohns.org.za or Kathy de Smidt at kathy@stjohns.org.za

The church building and hall behind it are used by several schools and community organisations. Picture: Janice Matthews
Due to leaks from the roof, the walls inside the church are showing signs of damage. Picture: Janice Matthews