GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government donated RM100,000 to the Church of the Assumption here for a restoration project that is expected to take 14 months and cost RM2.5 million.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced the donation in his working visit to Penang’s oldest cathedral, which was built in 1860, at Farquhar Street this morning.
“The Assumption Church is one of my favourite churches in Penang. We will definitely endorse any attempt to restore the church to its original form.
“As a token of support, we will be contributing RM100,000 to assist as much as we can,” he said after meeting Bishop Sebastian Francis, who heads the Penang Diocese.
Bishop Francis thanked Lim for the donation, saying the church wants to be actively involved in the enhancement of the George Town Heritage Site.
“We want to help in whichever way possible, we owe it to our pilgrims and tourists,” Francis said.
The 156-year-old church will hold its last service on Aug 14, on the eve of the Feast of the Assumption. All services will be held at the St Francis Xavier Church at Penang Road thereafter.
The restoration work by conservation architect Edmond Khoo Boo Hean will then commence.
Khoo said the restoration work would return the church to the look it had in 1928, which was when the last renovation was carried out on the building.
He said repairs to the damaged ceiling and old wiring would also be done, while retaining the heritage values of the church.
“We will remove the existing jalousie (louvre) type windows and replace them with timber shutter windows and blinds, which were the original type used in this church.
“Ground water has been seeping through the tiles, and that too needs to be fixed,” Khoo said.
Also to be fitted are concealed wiring, a new public address system, projectors and other creature comforts.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of October next year.
Meanwhile, restoration fund-raising committee chairman John Lau said RM670,000 has been raised so far.
He said the church has contributed RM500,000, while the remainder was raised through donations by well-wishers.
“We are hoping to raise another RM1 million through sales of raffle tickets, with a corporate sponsor planning to give away a Mazda car as the grand prize,” Lau said.
The Church of the Assumption in Penang is the third oldest in the country, after two churches in Malacca, namely St Peter’s (which was built in 1710) and St Francis Xavier (1856).
The church also houses the oldest English-made pipe organs, touted as the only kind in the north of the peninsular and one of the oldest in Southeast Asia.