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History of the Church up to 1986
Based on the account by the Rev. R E O White written in 1954.
BAPTIST beginnings in Rutherglen are shrouded in some uncertainty. The official “History of Baptists in Scotland” names the year 1860 as the time when “a hand of Christians first met and carried on good work in the gospel,” After some ten years, during which growth was slow and the new cause met with some suspicion and discouragement, the Church migrated to Bridgeton where it prospered, later becoming known as the Sisters Street Church. It was in 1891, according to the same authority, that a small band from the
1886 - 1890
Memories still linger. however, of a Baptist group meeting in Rutherglen in 1886, in a house kitchen somewhere in
This may well have been the inaugural gathering. for about fifteen months later, on
1894 - 1904 - Site bought at Greenhill Road
1894 - the church’s fifth year proved to be the greatest yet . On April 29th, Joseph Young was called to be its first Pastor. At this time the Church had some 43 members. The Induction Services, in the Lesser Town Hall, on June 24th, were conducted by the Rev. Edward Last, of
As might be expected, the Church was becoming increasingly exercised about the need for larger and permanent premises.
Meanwhile, in less concrete but even more important ways, the cause was being consolidated. The Trust Deed, which governs the life of the Church in matters of doctrine and procedure was drawn up and accepted, ensuring for all time (so far as legal instruments can) that the Church shall remain evangelical in faith, Baptist in teaching and “congregational” in government - or forfeit its inheritance. A fine clarity and firmness marks the early statements, yet not intolerance; for as early as 1895 the Church decided that, despite its own conviction in the matter of Baptism, those known to be medically unfit for Baptism might still be admitted to member ship.
The new developments did not however meet with unanimous approval. By what steps the situation was brought about, under the play of what motives and personal feelings, cannot now be said, and it is profitless to guess: what is certain, where much else is obscure, is that on September 19th, 1901, a second Baptist Church came into being in Rutherglen, known as the West Baptist Church, meeting first at 65 King Street (corner of Greenbank Street), and later at the Lesser Town Hall (while the older cause used the Masonic Hall in Queen Street) and later still in Harriet Street, where earlier a small group of Congregationalists had been worshipping.
1907 to 1914
The new Minister, Rev. Charles S. Donald, of
First World War and afterwards
In December, 1914, the Church called Rev. T. A. McQuiston from Kirkintilloch and the following May brought a very memorable and important occasion, when Mr McQuiston (who as a” student of Dunoon Baptist College” had preached in the West Baptist Church in March 1902), preached “ on Sabbath, 23rd May, 1915, in Stonelaw Road Baptist Church, on the occasion of the union of the two Churches.” Thirty-three
Church Halls Added
Towards the end of Mr McQuiston’s ministry further great advance was made with the planning of the present fine suite of halls, the “Simpson Memorial Hall,” two smaller halls, a kitchen and the Church Officer’s house. The “Old Manse “ - Sherwood - was also purchased and remained in occupation of the Church for over twenty years. The total cost of these undertakings reached £3000; the halls were opened Christmas, 1927.
1925 to 1933
Mr McQuiston left in 1925 to become Baptist Union Evangelist, and he was succeeded in March of that year by Rev. William Wood, M.A., of Alloa, whose ministry continued until 1932. The “twenties” as a whole saw impressive development of the organisation of the Church, especially in its Youth work. The “ Free - will Offering Scheme” was adopted in 1924, setting the Church’s finances upon a basis of trained and regular generosity. To the consistently successful” Women’s Own” were added a Woman’s Auxiliary (1926, previously a ‘working party’), a flourishing Christian Endeavour Society, a Girls’ Auxiliary and Ropeholders, and in 1928 the growing Sunday School was graded into four departments for more efficient work. Out of this intensive training no less than eleven young members went forward into Christian work: Rev. R. G. Black, B.D. (Church of Scotland); Rev. John Black, M.A., School Headmaster; Rev. Adam Reid, M.A. (Church of England); Rev. Alex Reid, M.A. (Unitarian Ministry); Rev. G. Johnstone, M.A. (Presbyterian Ministry in Australia); Rev. Bruce Young, M.A., B.D. (Church of Scotland); Rev William Brickley, M.A., who died in 1952 after serving our Bowhill, King’s Park and Alexandria Churches; Rev. G. C. Thompson, M.A., who served at Cupar, Burnley, Taunton, and at Dorchester; Rev. P. Higgins and his brother, who both went out of our Sunday School into the Presbyterian Ministry a little later; and Miss Jessie McAslan, later Mrs A. Speed, the wile of our Minister at Elgin, who served in Africa under the Regions Beyond Missionary Union. This is a list of which any Church might be proud. At the end of 1932 the membership total had climbed to 298.
1933 and Second World War
In 1933 the Rev. A. E. Penrose, of Polemoor, Huddersfield, became Pastor, and to him fell the task of leading the Church through the difficult years of the industrial depression and the still more exacting years of the Second World War up to 1944. In 1933, and again in 1938 and 1939, the Sunday School won the Prize Shield in the Scripture Examination: in 1939 a Compton Electric Organ was installed at a cost of £650. The Members’ Roll for these years tells the best story, however: repeatedly, large groups were baptised - nine in December, 1933, thirteen in January, 1934, and a further nine in February, nine in January, 1936, are the outstanding figures - and in 1934 the Church membership reached it highest - ever figure, 300. Behind such a record must lie a story of great blessing and encouragement. Despite losses and severe revision the membership in 1943 was still 267. Inevitably, War again disrupted Church life, though the toll in lives was mercifully smaller than in 1914- 1919. A brass Memorial Tablet was unveiled on Remembrance Day, 1952, recording the Church’s tribute to those who in both Wars had made the great sacrifice.
Further revision of the Membership Roll doubtless reflecting war-time circumstances - dislocation, black-out, evacuation - caused the Church to report a considerably smaller membership in 1944 - 181. In that year Rev. W. L. Cassie, M. A., of
In 1955 Rev R. E. 0. White was succeeded by Rev. John McCruden who came from
In 1986 the church called the Rev Kenneth Coulter to be minister. The membership of the Church in 1986 was 75.