Our History, as Hawick Baptist Church

 

Hawick Baptist Church: Its Origin and History. By Archibald Jardine

Jim Jardine who was a member of Hawick Baptist Church in years gone by, as was his father Archibald, before him, gave us a copy of a history of Hawick Baptist Church which had been written by his father and published in 1924 by James Edgar of 5, High Street, Hawick.  We have serialised this in our church newsletter over the past few months and thought it would be good to have it here on the website.

Part one: (1798-1852)

On the 26th July, 1798, three men arrived in Hawick, then a little township of less than 3,000 inhabitants.  They immediately secured the services of the town crier, and announced an open-air meeting on Tower Knowe that evening.  Open-air preaching of the gospel was a decided novelty at that time, hence there was a considerable gathering of townspeople.  The speakers were James Haldane, John Aikman, and Rowland Hill, and they preached from a heap of stones – the debris of the old Tower of Hawick.  Among others upon whom a deep impression was made was one William Thorburn, who was in business as a tailor in the Howegate.  He and several others left the churches they had formerly attended, and met in a barn for worship and mutual edification.  They were soon nicknamed “Haldanites” and suffered no little persecution.  After a visit from Mr Paton, a missionary maintained by Robert Haldane, in 1804 they endeavoured to obtain a resident pastor, Mr Paton’s labours having been very successful.  By strenuous exertions and much self-sacrifice they raised enough money to purchase a piece of ground in the Kirk Wynd, and proceeded to erect thereon a Tabernacle and a manse, the Haldane brothers themselves also rendering material assistance.  For their first pastor they chose Mr Charles Gray, a young married man, who had originally served his apprenticeship as a stone-hewer, after which, under the influence of the Haldanes, he devoted himself to the ministry, and on the 30th November 1805, he was set apart to the pastoral office in the Tabernacle.

Some time after this, Mr Gray, who had hitherto been an Independent, followed the Haldanes’ example, and accepted Baptist principles, whereupon the greater number of his flock severed their connection with the Tabernacle.  A few still clung to him, and these formed the first gathering of Baptists in Hawick.  The company, however, was too small to support Mr Gray and he left the town.  The Baptists, or as they were sneeringly called, “The Dippers,” then started on their own footing, and appointed Mr William Thorburn, mentioned above, as their spiritual overseer, and met for devotion in his private house.  The little band continued under his leadership until his death in 1836.  As for the Tabernacle, the house dedicated to the worship of God became a theatre a few years after Mr Gray left, and was later a stocking shop, and is now a billiard saloon. 

What took place in the interval from 1836 to 1846 is somewhat obscure, though it was well known to some of the old members that Mr John Turnbull, dyer, was instrumental, with others, in gathering a company together for worship, and to maintain our distinctive principles.  Through his generosity the old chapel, a large room on the ground floor of 8, Allars Crescent, was granted to the Church, when formed at a nominal rent.  Mr James Blair, formerly of Ayr, and later of Dunfermline, visited Hawick in 1845 as an evangelist of the Baptist Union, and baptised one person.  Again in January, 1846, he baptised 5 persons, the baptisms at that time taking place in the mill dam in Slitrig Crescent.  Mr Thomas P. Henderson, another Union evangelist, visited Hawick in November 1845 and baptised two.  Again in August 1846, he baptised one, after which a meeting was held to consider the advisability of forming a church, when favourable resolutions were passed.  An account of the formation of the church is to be found in a magazine now defunct, viz., “The Evangelist,” vol.1. page 243, of which the following is an extract:- “The brethren formed themselves into a church without any form except giving each other the right hand of fellowship.  They are 23 in number, four of whom are from the church at Galashiels.  Mr Henderson, from the Union, dispensed the Lord’s Supper among the brethren for the first time on Lord’s Day 22nd November.  Three brethren have been chosen to the office of Deacon.”   The remaining four of the number, who had met under Mr William Thorburn, associated themselves with the church soon after its formation.  From this time until the year 1852, Mr Alex Kirkwood, with many other worthy brethren, occupied the pulpit.

Part two (1852-1880):

In October, 1852, Mr William M Anderson, who kept a day school during the week, was recognised as pastor.  He left in September 1862, when Mr Charles Hawkins was appointed his successor.  The following is a copy of the resolution: “Sept. 14th, 1862.  At a church meeting Brother Hawkins was unanimously requested to preside over the church and conduct the services.”  Mr Hawkins consented, and held this office till 1871, when he resigned.  In May of that year Mr Hewson was sent by the Baptist Union as their missionary to take oversight of the church.  During the year 1873, Messrs Scroggie and Dunn held a series of evangelistic services, in which Mr Hewson took an active part, and the little church shared in the blessing that came to the town at that time.  By September 1873, the membership had increased to 45.  There is an interesting minute recorded at this date as follows: - “Elizabeth Hunter, an old disciple between 70 and 80 years of age, and residing at Branxholme, having had her mind directed to the ordinance of baptism simply from the reading of the Word, she saw it clearly to be her duty to follow her Lord in that delightful ordinance.  Having expressed her views on this subject to her present pastor, and not receiving anything from him that was satisfactory, she resolved to walk down to Hawick and have some talk with the Baptist minister, which she did.”  She was received into fellowship with the church on 26th October, 1873, and was a member until her death eight years later.

At the end of 1873 the Committee of the Baptist Home Missionary Society intimated their willingness to renew and continue the grant towards Mr Hewson’s salary on condition that the church raised £50 per annum for him.  This they were unable to undertake, and Mr Hewson was withdrawn in March 1874.  “A meeting of the church was held on 1st March, to commend Bro. Hewson to the grace of God . . . Tea was provided by the Sisters and a very harmonious evening enjoyed.  During the evening a purse containing £5 6s was presented to Mr Hewson as a more tangible token of their good wishes.”

On 24th May, 1874, Mr Hawkins signified his assent to the wishes of the church that he should resume the pastorate, which office he held till 1880.  In 1879, Mr Scott, from Spurgeon’s College, laboured with them for a few months, and was the means of adding ten to the church.  This, we find, was a very trying year to the members.  It was a year of great depression of trade, with consequent unemployment and sickness.  “The principal part of the members being employed in the mills, have had much broken time . . . . We have, however, been able to raise £1 per week for supplies, exclusive of expenses for rent, coal, gas, etc.”

On 5th October, 1879, they renewed their previous application to the Baptist Home Missionary Society for help, at the same time stating that the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon had promised that if they could obtain help to supplement what they could raise he would supply a man.  Mr Spurgeon also wrote to the Society himself on behalf of the Hawick Baptist Church.  The Society replied that if a suitable man was selected for pastor, who could also do evangelistic work, and be recognised as their agent, they would be happy to support him, After further correspondence, it was ultimately decided that if the church chose a suitable man, “possessed of grace and ability, for the discharge of duties of the office,” and if they had a proper place for him to conduct services in, the Society would give at the rate of £50 per annum towards his support, the church also to raise £50.  In due course Mr James Spurgeon, in the absence of his brother, recommended Mr William Seaman to the church.  Mr Seaman offered his services for Lord’s Day, 4th January 1880, and intimated his willingness to stay if acceptable.  He accordingly preached for the first time on that date, and was asked to stay for the following 4 Sabbaths.

At a special church meeting, held on Monday, 2nd February, it was resolved on the motion of Bro. Inglis (Senior Deacon), seconded by Bro. Ballantyne : - “That we, the Baptist Church of Hawick, having heard Mr Seaman for five Sabbaths, unanimously and most cordially invite him to become our pastor, and trust he may accept the same.  We on our part undertake to hold up his hands when labouring with the Lord for our Israel, and to support him in all temporal wants as far as the Lord our God may prosper us. . . . . Hoping that our union may prove our choice to be of the Lord and a lasting blessing to all and the town in which we dwell.” 

A copy of the resolution was immediately dispatched by messenger to Mr Seaman, and after a short interval the pastor-elect made his appearance and announced his acceptance of the call.  At the meeting a letter was also read from Mr J C Hawkins, resigning the pastorate from Mr Seaman’s acceptance, and wishing the church God’s blessing.  It was decided to give Mr Hawkins some tangible proof of their appreciation of his lengthened and valuable services, which was duly carried out some weeks later.  A committee, consisting of Bros. Raw, Rennie and Nicholson, was appointed to co-operate with the pastor and deacons how best to carry out the wishes of the Baptist Home Mission in work of an aggressive nature in connection with the settlement of Mr Seaman as pastor.  

Part three (1880-1883)  

Mr Seaman’s induction services did not take place till 4th April, when they were held in the Temperance Hall, Croft Road.  In the forenoon Rev. William Grant, Edinburgh, delivered the charge to the pastor, and in the afternoon the charge to the congregation was delivered by the Rev. William Tulloch, Glasgow.  In the evening a gospel service was held, when the Rev. William Grant spoke effectively from John v. 24.  On the Monday evening a soiree was held in the same hall, the Rev. William Seaman presiding over a large gathering of the congregation and friends.  Besides Mr Grant and Mr Tulloch several local ministers were present and gave addresses, a very happy and successful evening being spent.  From this time the Temperance Hall was rented at £15 per annum, exclusive of gas, etc., and became the meeting place of the church on Sabbath days.

On 17th March 1880, the late Professor Elliot of Goldielands offered to the church a site in Bridge Street, stating that although he had been advised that he could sell the ground for more than it cost him, he would not care to see it used for any other purpose than for building thereon a place of worship, and would be pleased to let them have it for half its market value, viz., £200.  This very generous offer was accepted at a church meeting on 5th May, and the committee appointed previously were authorised “to take such steps as they thought expedient to raise the money necessary to buy the ground and erect a chapel thereon.”   Meantime, the £200 for the site was borrowed from the British Linen Bank on promissory note, signed on behalf of the church by John Inglis, Robert Ballantyne, Thomas Raw, and John Rennie, the latter having been appointed treasurer of the Chapel Building Fund.”  The members zealously set themselves to work – “especially the sisters” – and it was decided to have a sale of work in the Exchange Hall in October 1881.  The sale was a great success, £361 16s being raised, which cleared off the remaining debt on the site and left a good balance as a nucleus for the Building Fund. 

Plans for the new building were drawn up by Mr David Crombie, architect, Edinburgh, and a start was made with the work early in July 1882.  The ceremony of laying the Foundation Stone took place on Saturday afternoon 12th August.  The stone was laid by Thomas Bell, Esq., of Hedley Hall, Gateshead.  Mr Bell said the occasion reminded him of the work Nehemiah did in building the wall of Jerusalem, and just as Nehemiah lived to see his work accomplished under the blessing of God, so he hoped Mr Seaman would live to see the church completed and people flocking into it.  A silver trowel* was presented to Mr Bell bearing the following inscription:

PRESENTED

TO

THOMAS BELL, ESQ.,

ON THE OCCASION OF HIS

LAYING THE MEMORIAL STONE

OF THE

BAPTIST CHAPEL, HAWICK,

AUGUST 12TH, 1882.

Among those present at the ceremony were Edward Cruickshank, Esq., Edinburgh, ex-president of the Baptist Union; Mr Crombie, architect; Mr John Turnbull, Bank House; and several ministers of the town.

Work on the building proceeded apace, and the opening services in the new chapel were held on Lord’s Day, 18th February 1883.  The forenoon and evening addresses were delivered by the Rev. William Tulloch, President of the Baptist Union, Pastor W Seaman conducting the first part of the services, while the Rev. (later Professor) James Orr, of East Bank U.P. Church, officiated in the afternoon.  The hymns used were printed specially for the occasion.  The chapel was filled to its utmost capacity at each service, and in the evening hundreds had to be turned away.  The offerings for the day amounted to £30 13s 4 ½d.  On the Monday evening following a public soiree was held, when the chapel was again filled with the Rev. William Seaman presiding.  After tea, Mr Seaman reviewed the progress of events since they had been offered the site by the late Professor Elliot, thanking all who had so willingly and so generously come to their aid, and acknowledging God’s goodness in enabling them to build so comfortable a house for His service.  He intimated that the possible total cost of the building and land would be £1,350, and as they had realised altogether about £980, the debt remaining was about £370.

Keeping in mind the fact that at that time the church had only sixty members, one is able to appreciate the self-sacrificing and unremitting efforts they evidently put forth to result in such a creditable achievement.  Possessing but little of the world’s goods, they proved themselves to be loyal in heart and zealous in the work of the Lord.  The Trustees for the chapel were:- Messrs C A Rose and William Tulloch, Jun., of Glasgow; Mr Dovey and Mr White, of Edinburgh; Mr J Turnbull, Hawick and the following members of the church -  R. Ballantyne, T. Fisher, J. Rennie, and T. Raw.

(*The silver trowel now hangs in its presentation box in the church vestibule.)

Part four: 1883-1900

The first Baptismal service in the new chapel took place on Wednesday evening, 21st February 1883, when Miss Isabella R Bell, daughter of Mr Bell of Hedley Hall, and granddaughter of the late Mr Turnbull, dyer, was baptised by Mr Seaman.  It was surely fittingly ordained that a descendant of one to whom the church owed so much in its early days should be the first to pass through the waters in the new building.

Tokens of God’s blessing on Mr Seaman’s labours were soon visible, and the membership of the church steadily increased.  At a meeting of the members on 29th July 1891, called to hear the report of the Building Committee, it was decided to proceed at once with the proposed hall and vestries, to be built on the vacant piece of ground behind the church, as they already had in hand a sum nearly sufficient to cover the cost.  This addition to the building was finished early in 1892.  The total cost of the hall and furnishings was £332, towards which Mr Seaman himself collected £248 11s 6d, the remainder being collected by various friends in the church.

Up to this time the ordinary finances of the church were a source of perpetual anxiety to the office bearers, and each year they were indebted to the Baptist Home Mission for a grant towards the maintenance of the ministry.   At the end of 1893, however, the balance in hand was such that the treasurer, Mr Rennie, recommended the church to relieve the Mission of any further responsibility.  This being agreed upon, the pastor was asked to convey to the (Baptist) Home Mission “the best thanks of the church . . . for their long-continued and generous support.”  From that time the church has been self-supporting. 

On 15th December 1895, Mr Seaman, having accepted the position as agent for the Baptist Home Mission of Scotland, intimated his resignation as pastor of the church, and on Sabbath, 12th January 1896, closed his public ministry in Hawick.  On Monday, the 13th, a valedictory service was held, when the church was crowded.  The Rev. J Bell Johnstone, Galashiels presided.  Mr T Welsh, Secretary, after a short word of appreciation, presented a gold watch to Mr Seaman, bearing the inscription:-“Presented to the Rev William Seaman by the members of Hawick Baptist Church in grateful recognition of 16 years’ faithful service.”  Mrs Seaman was also made the recipient of a silver tea set, Mr T Young making the presentation.

Thus, in happy and propitious circumstances, closed a ministry whose influence was felt over the whole town.  Begun among a very small company of believers, meeting in a room in a back street, by the good hand of God upon it, its closing saw the members more than trebled, and a substantial building, dedicated to the worship of God, erected in the main street, with seating accommodation for 300 persons, at a total cost of £1,700, with only £240 debt remaining.  During his ministry, 242 names were added to the roll, of whom Mr Seaman baptised 170, and of the 147 members on the roll when he left, only 9 were on the roll when he came.

After a six months’ vacancy, the Rev James Hodgson was called to the pastorate, and commenced in July, 1896.  Unfortunately, friction arose before the end of the year, and Mr Hodgson resigned, but on a ballot being taken he was persuaded to withdraw his resignation.  Early in the following year, 30 members withdrew from the church and formed themselves into a separate body, meeting in a hall in Union Street.  Mr Hodgson, feeling the position to be unsatisfactory, resigned from the pastorate in August 1897.   A committee, composed of all the male members of the church, was appointed to take charge of affairs during the crisis.  The Border Baptist Association having expressed a desire to see a re-union with those who had withdrawn, the committee appointed a sub-committee of three to meet with three of the others, with the happy result that in November 1897, twenty-two of them were re-instated as members, some of the remainder rejoining later.  Some months of difficulty and anxiety were passed through, then in May 1898, the Rev J W Kemp of Kelso was invited to become Pastor.  “He accepted the invitation and began his pastorate on Sunday 4th July 1898.  The Rev Edward Last, Glasgow preached in the forenoon and evening; Mr Kemp in the afternoon.  An induction soiree was held the following evening, when words of welcome and cheer were spoken by various friends.”

Several new features of the church were inaugurated during Mr Kemp’s ministry.  Within a month of his coming open-air services were started on Sabbath evenings.  He also conducted gospel services in the theatre for a period, when great numbers gathered.  The New Year’s Day Conference, now an annual event, was first held at this time.  In the Sunday School, senior and infant classes were started.

During the year 1900, the members were asked to give a quarterly thank-offering to reduce the remaining debt on the church buildings, and at the end of the year, the treasurer, Mr John O Buck, was able to intimate that a substantial amount had been given.  The question of a close or open communion agitated the church for a time, with the ultimate decision, which is still adhered to, being embodied in a resolution:- “That the church continues only to receive into its membership immersed believers, but will accord to others who love the Lord the privilege of communion in the fellowship of the Lord’s Table.” 

Part five: 1901-1916

Mr Kemp accepted a call to Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh, and closed his pastorate in Hawick in January 1902.  The membership rose from134 to 171 during the three and a half years of his ministry.  There then ensued a long vacancy of fourteen months, during which time calls were sent to several ministers, but none were accepted.   In February 1903, Mr Donald McNicol, Clydebank, was invited to become pastor and consented.  He began his pastorate on Lord’s Day 1st March, the Rev. David Wallace conducting the induction services.

Mr McNicol instituted lantern services on Saturday evenings during the winter months, which were well attended and greatly appreciated.  The attendances on Sunday evenings attained such dimensions that the question of increased accommodation became urgent, and a back gallery was added, seating 100, making the total seating capacity of the church about 400.  Shortly after this a new baptistry was put in.

The writer can well remember the deep impression Mr McNicol’s earnest and powerful preaching made on him while yet a lad at school, and he was not alone in this respect, for, more than any other perhaps, Mr McNicol was instrumental in bringing into the church large numbers of young people.  From the point of numbers, the membership reached its high water mark in 1906, there being at the close of that year, 275 members on the roll.  Mr McNicol was called to Gorgie Church, Edinburgh, and on 25th July 1907, a public farewell meeting was held, when he was presented with a number of Spurgeon’s Sermons and a purse of gold.

About four months later, the Rev. John Dick, Dundee, conducted a series of special evangelistic services, and immediately thereafter, the church presented a call to him, which he accepted, beginning his pastorate early in 1908.  Within a year of his settlement all the remaining debt on the church buildings was cleared off.  His racy preaching, cheerful personality, and ready sympathy made him probably the most popular in the line of Baptist pastors in Hawick.  During a time of severe trade depression Mr Dick supervised the giving of free teas to the unemployed in the church hall.  After a brief ministry of about two and a half years, he accepted a call to Paisley Road, Glasgow.

The subsequent vacancy was not of long duration, the Rev. W A Ashby commencing his ministry in February 1911.  In that same year the Women’s Auxiliary was started, with Mrs Ashby as President.  Since then the Auxiliary has rendered valuable service to the Church in many ways.

The Bible Class reached its zenith in 1913, when there were about 120 members, the hall being taxed to its utmost capacity every Sunday.  Mr T A Hogarth having resigned his post as church secretary, he was presented with tangible tokens of the church’s appreciation of his twelve years’ valuable services in that capacity.

Mr Ashby had the unenviable distinction of being the only Baptist minister to require police protection.  Having had the courage to speak the truth regarding a Protestant lecturer, an infuriated mob awaited his leaving the church one Sunday evening.  Such is the mutability of public opinion that within a week the lecturer dared not show his face and Mr Ashby was completely vindicated.

The effect of the Great War was soon felt, members joining up from the very commencement.  The Roll of Honour now hung in the hall shows the names of sixty-one members and adherents who  served in the forces, of whom the following gave their lives:-

WILLIAM SCOTT             STEWART MORLEY       ROBERT REID       THOMAS WIGHT             JAMES WALDIE               JOHN MYLES

HUGH AMOS                    ROBERT SCOTT               WILLIAM TAIT       R. MUSGRAVE                 JOHN PORTER

Early in 1915 a large number of the Black Watch were billeted in the town, and the church hall was given for their use as a reading, writing and recreation room, Mr T Young generously offering to bear half the expense.  The same brother also defrayed the expense of a re-union social for ex-service men, held on 9th February 1920.

A contingent from Newfoundland came to Stobs in the summer of 1915, several of whom occupied the pulpit from time to time.  On 23rd September 1915, Mr Ashby took farewell of the congregation, having accepted a call to the church at Bridgeton, Glasgow.

Mr W M Robertson, evangelist with the London Evangelization Society, was unanimously called to the pastorate, and began his ministry in January 1916.  At this time Mr John O Buck resigned from the office of Treasurer, which he had held for seventeen years.  The church placed on record their appreciation of his long and valued services.

Part six 1916-1923

The Rev D McNicol, serving as chaplain with Australian troops in France, visited Hawick in June, and addressed a large audience in the Church.

Mr Robertson’s preaching, coupled with Mrs Robertson’s beautiful singing, attracted great crowds, so much so that the church became uncomfortably crowded.  The Sunday evening services were accordingly held in the Theatre and Town Hall for a good part of the winter 1916-17, and the attendance and interest justified the action.

The pastor being absent on service with the Soldiers’ Christian Association in France from June until October 1918, the services in the church were conducted by Mr Herbert Hall. 

On 11th November 1918, a deeply impressive service was held, “to give thanks to God for the signing of an Armistice and the cessation of hostilities,” the church being completely filled.

Having accepted a call to Toxteth Tabernacle, Liverpool, Mr Robertson left Hawick in March 1919.  After a six months’ vacancy, the Rev John Moore, Alloa, was invited to become pastor, and began his ministry on 14th September.  A few weeks prior to his settlement the church acquired a manse at a cost of £750.  Without resorting to any other method of raising the money than that of systematic giving, nearly £600 has been paid to date (1924), leaving about £150 to pay.

At their request, Mr Moore took the leadership of a band of young men holding open-air meetings at various parts of the town on Friday evenings throughout the summer.  He also took a strenuous part in the No-Licence campaign of 1920.  Mr Moore’s three years’ ministry was marked by deep spirituality.  Often labouring under great physical disability, he was always enabled to rise above it, and ever keeping before his people “the high calling wherewith they were called” sought by example as well as precept to lead them into a closer walk with God.  In Mrs Moore, he had a very real help, both in visitation and in her being able to step in and take a service when occasion demanded.  Being called to the larger sphere at Bridgeton, Glasgow, he resigned from the Hawick church in July 1922. 

The church was closed during the first half of September 1922, for the purposes of re-decoration, the congregation meeting in St. Andrew’s U F Church hall*, which was generously granted for their use free of charge.  Special services marked the re-opening on 17th September, when the morning and evening services were conducted by the Rev. George Yuille, ex-president of the Baptist Union.  In the afternoon, at a special service, the Rev. Dr Cathels unveiled the memorial tablet erected in the church in memory of the Rev William Seaman.  Mr Andrew Lyon presided over a crowded congregation, and spoke of Mr Seaman’s gracious and blessed ministry, of which the building in which they were gathered was itself a memorial.  The Rev Dr Cathels, in a choicely expressed eulogy, said that to him Mr Seaman’s distinctive quality was his faith. 

“It was the directive power in all his life, the greatest gift that God had given him.  It was not assertive or obtrusive.  It was a pervasive, constant influence that controlled the life and gave to it its character and its charm.  I am not claiming for our friend qualities of intellect, of scholarship, of distinctive power, which he would have been the last to claim.  But we can claim for him what is far higher and far greater – that steadfast faith in unseen and eternal realities, in the presence and the power of the Risen and Eternal Christ.  That was the secret of his life and the secret which his life revealed to all who knew him . . . . . mere flattering words would be an insult to his memory.  It is enough to remember the man we knew, the man of strong but childlike faith who ever sought to prove himself a good minister of Jesus Christ.  Because of this we honour his memory by this memorial which in your name it is my privilege to unveil.” 

Dr Cathels then drew aside the drapery, disclosing the memorial to view.  It is of brass and marble, and the inscription is as follows:-

IN MEMORY OF

REV WILLIAM SEAMAN

FOR 16 YEARS MINISTER AND OVER 40 YEARS

A MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH.

THIS HOUSE WAS ERECTED MAINLY

THROUGH HIS EFFORTS

CALLED HOME 5TH FEBRUARY  1921.

“A MAN GREATLY BELOVED.”

Mr Yuille also spoke of his work and worth, and of the great esteem in which he was held throughout the denomination.

(* St. Andrew’s U F Church hall was on the site of what has been in more recent times a filling station and then a carwash further along North Bridge Street.)

Part seven:- (1923-24)

The nine months’ vacancy subsequent upon Mr Moore’s resignation was terminated by the Rev. B Poole accepting a unanimous call to the pastorate.  He was inducted on Lord’s Day, 13th May 1923, by the Rev. Joseph Burns, who had baptised him a few months before, Mr Poole having been previously in the Methodist ministry. 

Within a few weeks of Mr Poole’s coming, the church sustained a severe loss in the sudden home-call of Mr George Reid, who was well known in the denomination and was for some time a member of the Union council.  Mr Reid was secretary for ten years and Sunday School Superintendent for six years.  He was so closely bound up with the life and work of the church that his going left a blank still keenly felt.  The fragrance of his Christ-like life still lingers with those who were privileged to be his fellow labourers in the Master’s service.  A successful business man, he was nevertheless pre-eminently a devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Missionary work has always had the warm support of the church, and several members have given themselves to service in the foreign field.  Mrs Wilkes was for three years on the Congo with the Regions Beyond Missionary Union, but was compelled to come home as her health broke down under the strain.  Miss Lizzie B Weir, who departed to be with Christ on 23rd September 1917, gave 19 years of devoted labour for her Master, in India, with the Poona and India Village Mission.  Mr Robert Porteous has for nearly 20 years been in China with the China Inland Mission and is still actively engaged there.  Two of our members are at present studying with the foreign field in view; Mr Chris. Buck at Spurgeon’s College, and Miss Agnes Little at the Deaconess Hospital, Edinburgh, where she has almost completed her medical training. 

Mr Francis Manderson and Mr William Aird, who emigrated to Canada some years ago, both entered the ministry there.

The following is a complete list of the men who have occupied the pulpit here, with the dates of their respective pastorates:-

            Mr Alexander Kirkwood                 -              -              1846-1852

             Mr W M Anderson            -              -              -              1852-1862

              Rev John C Hawkins      -              -              -              1862-1871

              Rev. J Hewson -              -              -              -              1871-1874

              Rev John C Hawkins     -              -              -              1874-1880

               Rev William Seaman      -              -              -              1880-1896

               Rev James Hodgson      -              -              -              1896-1897

               Rev Joseph W Kemp      -              -              -              1898-1902

               Rev Donald McNicol      -              -              -              1903-1907

               Rev John Dick  -              -              -              -              1908-1910

               Rev William A Ashby      -              -              -              1911-1915

               Rev William M Robertson              -              -              1916-1919

               Rev John Moore -              -              -              -              1919-1922

       Rev B Poole        -              -              -              -              1923-

Times have greatly changed since the church was founded, but its message is still the same.  A free and full salvation through “Christ and Him crucified” is still proclaimed from the pulpit, and Mr Poole has proved himself a worthy successor to the line of godly men who have fearlessly stood for the grand old gospel as the one message suited to men of every age.  “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”  The past enables us to thank God, take courage, and go forward, assured that we shall yet see great things accomplished in the name of our Supreme Head, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 


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