Bright, beautiful new window marks St Bestius’ Church’s links with great hymn-writer

Parishioners and friends of St Bestius’ Church in Killeter arrived on Sunday afternoon to get their first proper glimpse of the church’s new stained glass window, which celebrates their parish’s links with the famous hymn-writer, Cecil Frances Alexander.

The inside of the new window had been under wraps prior to the ‘big reveal’ at Sunday’s Giving Day, marking the completion of phase one of the Parish of Derg and Termonamongan’s ‘Bright and Beautiful Campaign’.

The colourful, stained glass window depicts different aspects of Mrs Alexander’s most famous hymn, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, and was described by the Rector, Rev Peter Ferguson, as “a thing of beauty”. “It’s something our entire community can be proud of,” Rev Ferguson said. “I believe that for anybody doing a visit or a daytrip to Killeter, this window will be a ‘must-see’ part of any visit to our area.”

The parish implemented measures in church – such as a one-way system, taped off sections, social distancing, and hand sanitiser – to ensure that visitors remained safe during the Giving Day and church wardens were present to ensure that COVID restrictions were adhered to.

The Killeter Parish’s ‘Bright and Beautiful Campaign’ aims to restore St Bestius’ Church to its former glory – albeit with a few improvements. “We’ve now completed phase one of the project,” the Rector said, “which involved essential work to the exterior of the gable wall, where there was severe water ingress. That area has been completely and lovingly repointed, the stonework has been blasted and brought back, it’s been lead-lined. And then a major and signature aspect of this whole project is our newly-commissioned and installed stained glass window.”

Mrs Alexander and her husband, Bishop William Alexander, were “beloved characters” in the Killeter community, the Rector said. The project was launched in 2018, on the 200th anniversary of Cecil Frances Alexander’s birth.

“As a community,” Rev Ferguson said, “we’ve grown together, and we’ve also grown in our knowledge, our understanding, our appreciation, our respect, our celebration of the Alexanders and what they brought – not just to the Church of Ireland community here but to everybody in the community and further afield – through her beloved hymns and poems. So, this project will see St Bestius’ Parish Church completely restored and some innovative and exciting community ideas as well.”

The next phase of the project will see a newly designed, multi-purpose, fully-glazed room provided, with a new coffee and tea dock, baby-changing facilities, and a new fully-accessible toilet. The room will be available to community groups during the week and will be adapted, as required, for worship on Sundays and on other occasions. “It is fully part of the church,” Rev Ferguson said, “the sound system will be fed into the new room, and extra seating can be moved in as and when required.”

Cheques made payable to Termonamongan Parish Church B&B Fund can by sent to Rev Peter Ferguson, 13 Strabane Road, Castlederg, Co Tyrone BT81 7HZ.