Church of the Holy Trinity & St Barnabas

Church of the Holy Trinity & St Barnabas


The Scottish Episcopal Church is a self-governing province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Within that family our nearest sisters are the Church in Wales, the Church of Ireland and the Church of England.

It is called Scottish because we trace our history back to the earliest known Christian communities in Scotland about 400 CE. It is Episcopal (from the word for bishops) because we maintain the three orders of bishop, priest and deacon, dating from the early Church. Women have been ordained as priests since 1994 and legislation passed in 2003 allows women priests to become bishops.

Scotland is divided into seven dioceses or areas that are under the care and leadership of a Bishop. Each diocese has a mother church, called the Cathedral which is the focus of the worshipping life of the diocese at different times in the year.

There are 325 congregations in Scotland and 325 active priests (although only 176 are full-time). We have approximately 52 000 members. Congregations vary in size from 4 or 5 people meeting together in a house on one of the western isles to over 900 on a Sunday in one of the Edinburgh churches. The Scottish Episcopal Church is a lively church; liturgical innovation is encouraged, built around our distinctive Scottish liturgy and influenced by the rediscovery of our Celtic roots.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is an open and inclusive family welcoming all who wish to belong.


The Church of the Holy Trinity & Saint Barnabas has 247 members of all ages. We are a congregation that is both old and new. In one sense we are very young as the new congregation was formed at the Easter 2004. In another sense we are much older. You may know that for 110 years Paisley had two Episcopalian churches – one in Castle Street, dedicated to Saint Barnabas and the holy trinity, dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
There has been an organised Episcopalian presence in Paisley since 1817 when the congregation of Holy Trinity was founded. The nave of this building was erected in 1833 and the church was extended to its present size in the 1880’s under the influence of the Oxford Movement.

In 1890’s Saint Barnabas’ congregation was founded, initially as a mission at 42 George Street to serve mill workers who had come to Paisley from the north of England. The mission later moved to Queen Street and then, in 1894, a church was built in Castle Street. It was consecrated in 1897.

The two congregations served Paisley as separate entities until 1986 when financial constraints led to the appointment of one Rector for both churches. Then in 2003 the decision was taken to bring to an end the separate identities and form a new Episcopalian congregation in Paisley. Saint Barnabas’ building was closed and its dedication revoked by the Bishop on Palm Sunday 2004.


When the Scottish Penal Laws were relaxed in 1792 it became possible for other Christian denominations to meet without legal constraints and to erect buildings for worship. The congregation, which was founded in Paisley in 1817, met in a rented room somewhere in the Sneddon. A fund, which had been established to build a parsonage for the priest, was diverted to the building of a church which was named Trinity Chapel. The nave of this church is built in the style of a Georgian preaching box. As you go around you will see photographs of how the church looked in years after its dedication in 1833.

The Earl & Countess of Glasgow were members of the church and the Earl, who had been greatly influenced by the Oxford Movement, built and added to a number of churches in the west of Scotland. He was involved in the addition of the quire and sanctuary at the east end of this church (over the small graveyard) in 1883. The Oxford Movement espoused beauty and ceremony in worship and the centrality of the Eucharist. You will see the striking contrast between the relatively plain nave and the ornate east end. When the building was completed the choir was moved from the gallery to where it is today and robed. The psalms were chanted rather than said – a move which caused some members to leave in outrage!

Although there have been no further additions to the church building since 1883 there have been many changes to the interior and its furnishing right up to the present day. In 1907 electric light was installed and the pews were removed and replaced with oak and rush chairs which were in turn replaced in August 2003.

As you come into church you will notice the font which is traditionally placed near the door of a church. Its position emphasizes that Baptism is the door into the Church and the Christian life. This stone font, decorated with symbols of the Christian faith, was given by the Revd W.F. Mills who was Rector of Holy Trinity from 1872 to 1906.


To those who look in on the Church it must seem a very odd institution. Our worship and ceremony, especially in the Episcopal Church, is often baffling, perhaps amusing and even intimidating!! The clothes that are worn by the clergy may seem very bizarre if you have not grown up with it. We will attempt to explain what each piece is called and what it symbolises.

On display around the church are various sets of what we call vestments. They are in the various colours of the seasons of the Church’s year. There are 4 basic colours – green, purple, red & white or (gold). While green is used for the greater part of the year, purple is used in Advent & Lent, white or gold is used at Christmas, Easter & Feasts of Mary & red is worn for Pentecost & saints who were martyrs. In addition you will see rose pink (which is only worn on two Sundays of the year) & black which is worn on All Souls’ Day & for Requiem Masses.

Most vestments are derived from the formal clothing of the late Roman Empire -the dominant culture of the world in which Christianity first took root. The only exception to this is the stole, which is a sign of office. Vestments are not used to make the priest look nice but have deep symbolic values. They also provide focus and so they need to be colourful and striking. In worship the eye of the worshipper needs to be drawn to where the action is.

Most of the sets around the church are made up of three items – a maniple, a stole and a chasuble.

The maniple is one of the earliest and most powerful symbols of priesthood. It represents the towel of service and is worn over the left forearm. It reminds priests & bishops that they are always servants & deacons. It is not often worn nowadays.

The stole is a matching long band of fabric worn over the left shoulder by deacons and around the neck of a priest or bishop. A stole should be worn when performing any priestly office e.g. hearing confessions or anointing the sick, as well as at the Eucharist.
The chasuble, which looks like a poncho, was originally a type of coat. It symbolises the seamless garment of Christ. The Y-shape, which you will see on most of the chasubles, is a reminder of Christ hanging on the Cross.
Chasubles sometimes form one part of a High Mass Set which is worn on great festivals and also includes a cope (a brocade cloak worn for processions), a dalmatic (worn by the deacon) and a tunicle (similar to a dalmatic and worn by
the sub-deacon). The dalmatic and tunicle are the close-fitting garments with short sleeves.

You will see the full gold High Mass set on display. This set was commissioned and made by the church’s Guild of St Margaret of Scotland in 2005. The purple set was completed in time for Advent 2006.


west window

The west window, by Kirkintilloch artist Colin Stevenson, was installed in June 2004, a gift in memory of Robert and Isabella Killoch. The title of the window is “O be joyful in the Lord all ye Lands”, the opening words of Psalm 100, the canticle Jubilate. The design is a celebration of God’s creation. The three panels show morning, afternoon and evening and the seasons of spring, summer and autumn. The locality is represented in the Paisley skyline in the centre of the sun and in the weaver’s wheel which intertwines with the tree of life. At the top of the central light the dove hovers over creation.

The window is a skilful combination of coloured and clear, textured and plain and exciting Tiffany glass. There is a fusion of styles, from the 14th century to modern day. The design celebrates two lives with praise and thanksgiving to God. Joy in the life and peace of a garden was a common interest of the couple in whose memory the window is gifted.

north nave windows

In June 2005 windows which had been in Saint Barnabas’ were restored by Colin Stevenson and incorporated into three new windows on the north nave. Notice the contrast of the older windows set in modern glass.

The first window (the green window) shows Saint Barnabas the Apostle and is the work of Stephen Adams Studios. It was gifted by the Noble family in 1922, in memory of Henry Noble, a local produce merchant and his wife, Mary. Henry, who originally worshipped in this building, became a founder member of Saint Barnabas and was a churchwarden until his death in 1901. Mary died in 1911.

The second window (the orange window) shows Christ in Glory. The window is in its third location having first been commissioned for Glasgow’s Catholic Apostolic Church. It was moved to Saint Barnabas’ and became the central east window when the Catholic apostolic Church closed in the 1960s.

The third window (the blue window) shows Jesus & the children. This was the gift of the Saint Barnabas’ Sunday School in 1910.

east window

The main east window was gifted in 1883 by the Harvey’s of Castle Semple who were members of the congregation. The central light depicts Christ in Glory. Either side he is surrounded by saints of the Scottish Church – Kentigern, Ninian, Mirin and Columba. The saints can be told apart by the repeated first letter of their name in the glass behind them.
If you were able to stand level with the orb in Christ’s hand you would see that it contains a painting of Castle Semple!

As you move up the church along the left or north side please note the Stations of the Cross which tell the story of the final days of Christ’s life. Stations were designed to allow those who could not go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to follow the Way of the Cross. These 14 paintings, which adorn both sides of the nave, are by local artist Brian Ewing. The story begins in the Garden of Gethsemane at the Lady Altar and moves towards the back of the church across to the other side and finishes at the pulpit with the Resurrection.

The 3 stained glass windows were moved here in June 2005.

At the top of the north nave is the Lady Altar which is used for weekday Eucharists. On the altar, veiled in the colour of the season, is the tabernacle. This is a lockable wooden box which holds the Reserved Sacrament – consecrated bread and wine which is used to take communion to the housebound, the sick, and the dying. A lamp, given in memory of Dr Donald, and originally in the gallery chapel, burns constantly above this altar because Christ is continually present in the Reserved Sacrament. The painting above the altar, again by Brian Ewing, is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As you move towards the chancel steps you pass the brass lectern in the shape of an eagle. This eagle, which originally stood in Saint Oswald’s, Kings Park, was brought from Saint Barnabas’. The eagle, which is the symbol of St John the Evangelist, was believed to be the bird that could fly the highest and the farthest, bearing the Word of God to the four corners of the world. All Bible readings are read from here.

The chancel screen (either side of the steps) was erected in 1921 as a World War I memorial.

As you enter the chancel or quire you will see a separate stall on each side – these are the seats for the clergy. The Rector’s stall is on the right and the curate’s is on the left. Beyond them are the benches for the choir which in 1938 replaced earlier stalls which were given to Saint Margaret’s, Renfrew. The organ is sited on the north side. The console, which houses the double keyboard, was replaced in 2008.

Beyond the quire is the sanctuary which is built higher again and separated by oak communion rails. Notice the ornate tiling on the floor with the symbols of the Baron Hawkhead, one of the titles of the Glasgow family. On the north side of the sanctuary is the Bishop’s Chair, symbolising the Bishop’s teaching authority in each local church. In the recess behind the chair is a small cabinet covered with a purple veil. This is called an aumbry. In it is kept the oils for anointing the sick and those being baptised and confirmed.

The main focus of the church is the High Altar, set in the midst of the sanctuary. This altar, made of oak, was extended in 1946 as part of the church’s memorial to the victims of World War II. At the corners are 4 riddell posts each surmounted by carved oak angels holding torches. They are the work of Hans Mayr, a famous carver of Oberammergau. These were carved in 1914 & 1924.

Behind the altar is a reredos, carved in alabaster and marble, a memorial to the 4th Earl of Glasgow, It shows the symbols of the four gospel writers. Either side the wall is decorated with beautiful Minton tiles, which in 1919 were thought to be too gaudy and led to the whole east wall being covered with a blue curtain.

Above this is the east window.

In front of the altar hangs the sanctuary lamp which is both a symbol of God’s presence with his people and the holiness of the sanctuary. Burning lamps symbolised God’s presence in the Jewish Temple and in the visions of heaven described in the Old Testament and in Revelation. This lamp was given in 1921 by Wlrs Wright of Inverary, in memory of her father, Provost Clark of Chapel House, Paisley.

The door on the right of the quire leads to the sacristy, the room where the silver vessels and vestments for the Eucharist are stored and where the clergy and servers robe.
As you come down the steps out of the quire you will pass the pulpit on the right or south side of the church (your left!). From here the Word of God is preached. The crucifix above the pulpit proclaims that we preach Christ crucified. In the archway behind the pulpit are the war memorials of two World Wars.

At the west end of the church you will see the gallery. Please take time to visit the gallery and have a look at the Chapel of the Holy Child and a closer look at the west window, installed in June 2004.

The chapel in the gallery was dedicated on All Saints’ Day in 1932. A statue of the Holy Child was given by the Benedictine nuns at Mailing Abbey, West Mailing, (this statue was later damaged). The chapel’s history is a chequered one, it being used at one point to store old clothes for nearly new sales! It was reinstated as a chapel in 1981 and an altar was given from the Bishop’s private chapel. The statue of the child Jesus dressed as priest and king with his Mother was given by Saint Benedict’s, Ardwick in Manchester. The Statue had once been in the storeroom of a religious community and required some “touching up” when it came to Paisley. Missing fingers were replaced and a blond and pink-cheeked Virgin had her complexion and hair darkened by Hamilton and William Cameron of Glasgow! The chapel was renovated again in April 2004 when the High Altar, its furnishings and the sanctuary lamp from Saint Barnabas’ were relocated.

All information was supplied to Paisley on the web by M Fedigan.