Scotland Church History
THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH IN SCOTLAND
90th ANNIVERSARY (1992)
In the 90 years of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Scotland many events have taken place. As we celebrate together, the Scottish Mission has produced this small brochure to help you have a little insight into what has been happening here in those years. Following in alphabetical order, we cover the history of the current five church districts. It is our wish that you be inspired and informed. Good reading. The Communication Secretaries and Editor.
Evangelistic campaigns have taken place in towns such as Stonehaven and Peterculter in the past, as well as Aberdeen, but a congregation has only ever been formed in Aberdeen. Today members travel to church from Keith, in the north, and Laurencekirk, in the south (nearly 100 miles apart), and the small towns around Aberdeen. The "parish" is undoubtedly one of the largest in Britain!
Starting as a branch Sabbath School in the home of Mr and Mrs Grieve, back in 1904, the Aberdeen church had its beginnings. The "suffragette", Miss Archibald, was in charge when the group was formed into a company in 1931, then with 15 members. Church status was granted in 1935, when the membership stood at 28.
The group moved around until finding residence at 47 Marischal Street in 1937. In 1951 the church was forced to move to 60 Langstane Place, and again to 13 Dee Place in 1958. At this location the church remains today. However, a lovely new building replaced "the Scout hut" in 1989.
Together with the Manse, the church has a positive witness to the community, being the venue for outreach activities. Currently mid-week bible studies are conducted, at which non-members out number members.
Aberdeen has two assets which bring people to our church; the University and oil. Students provide an important role in our worship and witness. Sadly, about 30 students completed studies this year and left decimating the congregation. However, each year brings more. Oil has also attracted Adventists from all over the world to Aberdeen. Some pass through, staying a few months, but most are here for many years. The result is variety and colour, which can only add to the witness we give.
Building upon the past we look forward to introducing many to Jesus and his word, the Bible. We're hoping the Adventist message will be ringing in all the glens of Scotland!
Adventism in Crieff goes back a long way, although the formal church is quite young. Back in the 1920s and 30s Mr and Mrs Murphy ran a small Hydro in Crieff. Mrs Murphy was the Matron at our first hospital in Dublin, and her husband was instrumental in bringing Pastor George Keough into the church.
In 1945 Drs Ted and Gertrude Brown moved from Edinburgh to a house in Crieff called Akaroa, where they set up a nursing home and informal meetings were held there on Sabbaths. Patients and staff, Adventist or not, were welcome to join in the worship. Eventually the small group was officially formed into a company in February 1970, graduating to a church in 1972. The membership consisted of the nursing home staff, spouses, and just one couple who were not employees. It was around this time that the British Union Conference purchased the nursing home from Dr Brown.
In November 1977 the church building was erected by Maranatha on what was the tennis court of Akaroa. An extension to the church was built in May 1992, also by Maranatha. Local members and tradesmen completed the internal work on both buildings.
Membership has fluctuated during the years as Adventist staff transferred to and from the institution, but it is now at the stage where there are fewer employees than non-employees. For the last three years we have had one baptism per year, and currently the age range of the membership is from 2 to 101 years!
The Crieff church is now heavily involved with Flower Festivals and Holiday Bible Schools on an annual basis, and a well established weekly programme for ADRA. Its latest "baby" is an Over 60s Club for the whole community. Other activities are being planned for the new hall. "Seventh-day Adventist" is becoming a well known name throughout Tayside Region as 24 articles on local activities have been printed in the main newspapers during 1992.
From around the 1920s a small group of members met together in Stirling, but this company disbanded in 1966. The last member that we know of, then became a member of the Falkirk company.
Written records of the early days of the Dundee church are very few and rather sketchy. The date given for the formation of a company is 29 September 1917, consisting of 8 members.
No mention is made of the presiding minister. But by repute, Pastor Arthur Rodd Senior conducted a tent campaign in the city early in the church's history. It may well be that the company began as a result of this effort.
For many years the work grew slowly. By the year 1933 the membership had grown to 31, mainly by the labours of Brother Tapping. However, progress was slow. In 1949 the membership stood at only 13.
In the middle of that year Victor Hall arrived, with his wife, as a graduate fresh from Newbold College. He paved the way for Kenneth Lacey, who was appointed to conduct a city-wide campaign. This was launched in the spring of 1950 and after 7 months of intensive soul seeking 32 members were added to the company. During that time a building fund was started. Within 12 months a church building was erected and the company was officially formed into a church.
That was our home until the lease of the land, upon which the church was built, ran out in the early 70s. After 2 years of temporary accommodation we were able, once again, to worship in our own church building. This was dedicated in June 1976.
Since then, Pastor Wright (of Australia) has conducted a campaign from which 7 souls were baptised. Approximately 40 members have remained on our books for many years. There have been transfers, deaths and a few apostasies, but a faithful nucleus has always remained. We are still praying and working so that our membership will be increased and a rich harvest of souls be gathered in when Jesus returns.
Perth's Seventh-day Adventist church opened in July 1969. It was a special day for the 7 charter members. Although the message had been preached in Perth 40 years earlier, there was no membership until 1969.
Until December 1980 the members met in a little church in Union Lane. The church ran several evangelistic and health campaigns during those years. However, numbers did not grow. It seemed that for each new member gained one was lost. As a result, the church building was sold. The small nucleus of members met for a short while in a rented room, but for most of the time have met in members homes (notably those of Mrs Gibbons and Mrs Shah).
As the members continue with Sabbath meetings and prayer meetings, they hope that one day they might see an increase in membership, and once more have their own church building.
Adventism in Edinburgh has a long history; the Church Clerk's books go back to 1916. In those days the church met for worship in the Oddfellows Hall, Forrest Road, just a few yards from our present building. From 1916 until 1937 a hall was rented in Lothian Road. After several years of meeting in various locations, the present red-sandstone church at 3 Bristo Place was bought in August 1942.
While growth and new ideas are vital to a church community, continuity is important too. Among those members who provide us with continuity are Miss Binns, and Mr and Mrs Pedlar. Mrs Pedlar, Edinburgh born, was baptised in Edinburgh in 1924. After a stint at Stanborough College she returned to Edinburgh [married] with Mr Pedlar in 1942. Mr Pedlar's Welsh tenor voice became an important feature of Miss Binn's choir. Pastor Fred Wilmshurst is another member who helps us to keep in touch with our "roots" as a church. He was part of the ministerial team in Scotland during the 1930s. At 93 Pastor Wilmshurst is our oldest member and thinks Mr Gulland a mere youth at 89.
The first minister of the church, in its new home in 1942, was Leslie Hardinge, whose energy and large ideas soon involved the church in an evangelistic campaign held in the Usher Hall. (Another good use for the Usher Hall, showing a very positive face of Adventism to the city, was the 1973 Youth Congress.)
As with most Adventist churches, evangelistic campaigns have been important in our history. Known as "efforts" in the "old days", they sometimes took the form of "lantern lectures" held in rented cinemas. Speakers, like Lamont Murdoch, Kenneth Lacey, and John Colthart came to Edinburgh. In recent times "efforts" have concentrated on Bible study in a more intimate setting. Seminars have brought people directly into our church or its hall.
For many years the church's Dorcas Society provided a valued community service. Outreach in Edinburgh has also included prison visiting, literature evangelism, Holiday Bible Schools for children, "Five-day Plans", health lectures and demonstrations of vegetarian cooking. One of the earliest and most ambitious of the outreach activities linked with the church was the running of a restaurant in the church hall. This Cafeteria was started by Mr Adair and Mr Benwell. Later, Mrs Gulland managed the restaurant for a time and went on to run a successful health-food shop. When Mrs Gulland retired, the Hunter family took it over; they also revived the restaurant, which satisfied many a hungry vegetarian. Nancy and Jack Hunter retired at the end of 1991 and their son, Neil (the chef), moved to work at New-bold College.
There have been, perhaps, hundreds of students who have found a home in our church during their stay in Edinburgh. They have found us to be a "family" and have given time and skills and enthusiasm and insights to God's work in this city. We have been blessed by having with us students from all the corners of the world.
Some make music an evangelistic "effort". We have had visits from orchestras and choirs and hand-bell ringers. Dr Virginia-Gene Ritten-house, from New England, has made frequent appearances. For the past three years the Advent Chorale of Handsworth has taken part in the "Fringe" sharing joy and hope in Christ.
As a church we have been privileged to have ministers from all over the world: Sassenachs, a Samoan, a New Zealander, an American, an Aussie, and even one or two Scots. In return, some of our own--James Cuthell, Ian Lorek, Malcolm Pedlar, Neil Robertson and Gordon Smith--have become ministers serving in the world field.
Looking back over names like these is a fortifying reminder that God's Spirit has been active here during the past, and that His love has brought together a company of brothers and sisters who will be very glad to meet again in the grandest imaginable Church social.
One of Scotland's ancient capitals, Dunfermline, has had Adventists in it since 1934. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that a church was established there. Following a successful campaign by Denys Baildam a church was constructed and officially formed in 1952. Today, still meeting in Gordon Terrace, members worship and study scripture together. Recently, mid-week bible studies have begun as a result of the members initiative. Non-members are attending as a result! The Lord blesses as we do our part . . .
Kirkcaldy had a congregation from the 1920s till the 1960s. In one gust of wind, it seems, 6 families all migrated down under. This has happened to many congregations in Scotland, but never in such a devastating way as here.
The congregation that once met in Falkirk had a short life-span. Beginning in 1964, under the leadership of Ted Marshall, the Cyclists Hall was purchased and the church officially opened by the then BUC President, Bernard Seton. The members were very active. Ironically, their activities took them to other pastures, both in Scotland and South of the Border. Hence, by the 1970s there was no one left to carry on the work in Falkirk.
For many years, prior to the mid-1960s, the Church operated a retirement home in Edinburgh. Wishing to find peace out of the city, the home moved to "Peacehaven", Lundin Links. Adventist and non-Adventist worship every Sabbath, and have daily services too, in the home's lounge. A more idyllic spot, with views of the Firth of Forth, is hard to find; a place that brings one to worship.
The Glasgow District currently has four congregations--Glasgow, Irvine, East Kilbride, and Holy Loch. Many of these have been established relatively recently, but there have been others which have come and gone in the past. One such group is that of Clydebank.
Here a congregation was established in the 1920s. One of the ways of spreading the Adventist message in those days was by selling "Present Truth" magazines for 1d (1 old pence) each. This method solicited help from all age groups in the church, especially the young boys. Sadly, Clydebank no longer boasts an Adventist congregation, but others have sprouted up since.
Irvine and East Kilbride have companies which began, in part, as a result of some members of Glasgow church feeling that their journeys to worship were too long. Meetings are held and led out mainly by laity. One such lay person described these companies as "benign" (ie. growth could be imminent).
Holy Loch owes its origins to the US Naval base. Seventh-day Adventist servicemen needed a place to worship and, with the help of some local Glasgow members, started up meetings in Dunoon. Today the base is closed but a remnant of converts remain. Their story continues . . .
Last, but not least, is Glasgow. Growth in membership grew in the 1940s, although Seventh-day Adventists have been present in Scotland's largest city since near the beginning of the century. Membership totals have fluctuated over the years, as elsewhere in Scotland, with no dramatic changes for a long time. Today the church is active trying to attract non-members through its doors by means of Flower Festivals and Concerts, Seminars in Stress Management, Healthy Eating and the book of Revelation. Members and leaders alike, have a thirst for souls and are united in the task of filling the pews to overflowing.
Many thanks to those who contributed to the articles in this brochure: Ruth Farrer, Leslie Hill, John McDonald, Nora Myles, David Sutherland, and Margaret Whidden. Russell Bryan, Editor.
(c) Scottish Mission 1992
Last updated 25 June 2001.