East Church, Rutherglen, Reformed Presbyterian Church
© Copyright Revd. Andrew Donald
Photographs © Revd. Andrew Donald.
The foundation stone of this church was laid on 30th September 1871 by the Reverend John McDermid of Cumberland Street Reformed Presbyterian Church.
This church was erected in 1871-72 at a cost of £3000 and was initially a Reformed Presbyterian place of worship, but afterwards came into possession of the Free Church when the two denominations were United in 1876. In October 1929 the Church Union was celebrated and the church then became known as The Rutherglen East Church of Scotland.
It is an early English building with 750 seats and has a southwest tower and spire rising to a height of 128 feet.
Now only the central spire remains and the building itself has been converted for community use.
Chronology - Rutherglen East Parish Church of Scotland 1872-1972
The Early Beginnings
The story of the East church begins in 1870 when, on 17th April, a small number of churchgoers from various Presbyterian churches and the Rutherglen Independent Church, who had already been gathered together as a small Mission, decided that another church was necessary in Rutherglen.
Churchmen, numbering 27 in all, presented a petition to the reformed Presbyterian Synod of Glasgow asking permission to form a congregation and that the presbytery should appoint a missionary to rule over them and guaranteed to pay this missionary 100 pounds per annum. This was not granted by the Free Church Presbytery but It was later accepted by the Reformed Presbytery Synod.
The petition was granted on the 27th of April 1870, and Mr. T.W. Patrick, a third-year student and missionary at St Luke's Presbyterian Church was appointed to commence his duties on 1st May 1870. The formal election into a congregation was carried out and 70 persons were received into membership.
The East Church has no photograph of its first minister. At one time it had been possible to borrow a picture from the Rev. A. M. Gibson of Wardlawhill. This picture used to hang in Mr Gibson’s vestry.
Although Mr. Patrick was appointed as missionary, it was not until 1871 that he was licensed and then only on the condition that he attended the fifth year classes in Glasgow. On this condition being agreed, Mr. Patrick was duly elected a minister in November 1871, and for his election his call was signed by 97 members and 62 adherents. His ordination took place on 21st December 1871.
Sufficient funds were then raised, and the building of the church commenced on ground which was presented to the church by Dr. William Scott, Ruther House, Rutherglen.
The foundation or memorial stone was laid on 30th September 1871, by the Reverend John McDermid, of Cumberland Street, Reformed Presbyterian Church. A jar containing items in connection with the founding of the church was placed inside the stone by a Mr. Francis Wilson, one of the members. The position of the stone is thought to be in the north-east gable. A sketch of the church as originally planned was drawn.
The building of the church only was finally completed and opened for public worship on 10th November 1872. It is worth noting that this was the last Reformed Presbyterian Church to be built in Scotland, and the second Free church in Rutherglen, the first being the Munro Church which was built just after the Disruption in 1843.
In “Rutherglen Lore” it is stated that the second Free Church to be established in Rutherglen is that at the corner of Farme Loan Road, known as the “East United Free Church”.
This church was erected in 1871-72 at a cost of £3000 and was a Reformed Presbyterian place of worship, but afterwards came into possession of the Free Church when the two denominations were United in 1876.
It is an early English building with 750 seats and has a southwest tower and spire rising to a height of 128 feet.
Mr Patrick continued as minister until 1877, unfortunately the records for the first 10 years are very scanty. In fact, the earliest minute of the Deacons court existing is dated May 1881, (10 years after the church was founded).
In the early days, March 1876, several members were cut off the roll for non-attendances and, at a later date, a Deacon had to send a written explanation as to why he had not attended morning service on a certain Sunday, notwithstanding the fact that he had been present at the afternoon and evening services.
In addition to the session minutes information was found in the “Reformer” of February 1876 as follows:
“Sir, I was amused as well as grieved at the disgraceful exhibition which took place in our church on Monday last. I do not see the use of discussing important points of church discipline while some of our members are possibly under the influence of Bacchus.”
Another extract in June 1876 tells how Mr. Patrick sprained his ankle by falling out of the train from Edinburgh, whilst talking to a friend at Whifflet station, on his return from the celebration of the union of the reformed Presbyterian and Free churches.
In the edition of 1st July 1876 there was a paragraph stating that the church would now be known as “The East Free Church”, which name had actually been agreed upon at a session meeting in Park Villa, Rutherglen, held in June 1876.
Unfortunately, a strong feeling of dissension crept into the congregation and in May 1877 Mr. Patrick resigned after having been suspended by the Glasgow Presbytery. Prior to this, the number on the role had been 237 but, owing to the dissension the number fell to 69 members during the course of one year.
The Rev, R.G. Smith preached the church vacant by Order of the Presbytery in May 1877, but, owing to a misunderstanding, there was no minister present at the afternoon service, and an elder conducted the service. He intimated the 103rd Psalm and, while he was reading the first verse – “Oh thou my soul bless God the Lord.” – the majority of the congregation left the Church.
At a meeting of the congregation called for the purpose of filling the vacancy, on 3rd July, 1877, it was moved and seconded that as the congregation had no fault to find with the ministrations of Mr Patrick, he should be reinstated immediately. This motion was passed with acclamation, but the Presbytery refused to rescind their decision.
Eventually, a further meeting was held in January 1878, and the Rev. William Armstrong of Kirkcolm Stranraer was elected, taking up his post in March 1878.
1900 Union of Free Church & United Free Church, resulting in "Rutherglen East United Free Church.
The 1900 Union of Free Church & United Free Church, resulted in a new name for the Church - "Rutherglen East United Free Church." This name continued until 1929 when it was altered to the name it became until the closure of the building as a church, "The Rutherglen East Church of Scotland."
1904 Deacons' Court agrees to the purchase of an organ
In July 1904, the Deacons' Court agreed to the purchase of a pipe organ at the cost of £700. It was purchased from Messrs. Norman & Beard, Norwich.
1910 Rutherglen East Parish, amusing story of 1910 from the Centenary Booklet 1972
"In 1910, the coal pits took a hand in our church again, and on a Sunday afternoon, Mr Lindsay suddenly stood up in his pulpit after he had given the Benediction, to intimate an announcement he had earlier forgotten. While he was doing so, there was a crash, and a few screams, as a large quantity of plaster fell from the roof of the church into the aisles, and part of the choir. Fortunately, no-one was hurt but it was an act of Providence that made Mr Lindsay forget this intimation, otherwise the aisles would have been filled with the congregation leaving the Church Service."
1914-1918 Roll of Honour in the Great War
26 of the men of Rutherglen East Parish Church paid the Supreme Sacrifice. There was a memorial tablet at the front door of the church, which was unveiled on 13th November 1921.
1925 Purchase of a Manse for Rutherglen East Parish Church
The Manse was "Ardlui" (named after a pretty location at the head of Loch Lomond), no.23 Melrose Avenue, Rutherglen. It was purchased for the arrival of the Rev. A.H. Taylor, M.A., of Abernethy, who accepted a call to Rutherglen East, on 21st January 1925. At his appointment, the membership on the communion roll was 445. These were difficult times because the General Strike, which lasted about a fortnight, took place in 1926.
In September 1929, the church had its last meeting as a United Free Church and, in October 1929 the Church Union was celebrated and the church then became known as The Rutherglen East Church of Scotland. The next important date was on Wednesday 16th November 1932 when the church celebrated its diamond jubilee. Provost James Kirkwood, O.B.E., J.P. attended the celebrations. An organ recital was given by Mr W.S. Gibson, L.R.A.M., the Church Organist.
1960 the retirement of the Rev A.H. Taylor M.A. 1925 - 1960 fourth minister of the charge
Following a period of ill-health, in 1960 the Rev A.H. Taylor retired, having served 35 years from 1925. He had been the fourth minister of the charge.
In June 1964 a baptismal font was presented to the church by Mr J.K. Rodger in memory of his wife.
During Mr Devlin's ministry which began in 1961, the "Rockets" (formed for pre-Boys' Brigade), and the Boys' Brigade were run by Mr Alan Devlin.
1972 The Induction of the Revd. Brian S. C. Donald L.Th.
On Monday 17th April 1972 The Induction of the Revd. Brian S. C. Donald L.Th. took place. Mrs. Cecilia M. Donald was unable to attend the induction or the social due to the imminent arrival of the third junior member of the Donald Family. Elder siblings Louise and Andrew, greeted the arrival of their baby brother, William, early in May 1972.
After his studies at Christ’s College and Aberdeen University, Brian Stuart Cooper Donald trained for the Church of Scotland Mission Field at St. Colm’s College, Edinburgh. In 1968, with his wife Cecilia, daughter Louise and son Andrew, he left Scotland for Pakistan, serving at Daska High School and Boys’ Hostel, for three and a half years. On his return to Scotland, he was Ordained and Inducted to Rutherglen East Parish Church in its Centenary Year of 1972. Having served as its last minister, Mr. Donald left Rutherglen East in September 1979 to become the minister of Monquhitter & New Byth in Buchan Presbytery serving for over 18 years. During that time he was precentor and pianist for Buchan Presbytery, which he also served as Moderator in 1987-88. Mr Donald died on 5th August 1999, aged 66.
Session Clerks Rutherglen East Parish Church
Donald Campbell 1871-1873
William Richmond 1873-1876
Rev.Mr. Patrick Moderator and Session Clerk. Superseded 16 May 1877
Francis Wilson 1877-1881
John Middleton Session Clerk Protem 1881-1883, appointed officially June 1883-1887.
Ebeneezer McNally 1887-1889
David Munro 1889-1890
John Cook 1890-1897
David Munro 1897-1904
Adam Barr 1904-1906
John Smith 1906-1909
J.T. Smith Leask 1909-1917
Robert Watt 1917-1926
Thomas Foord 1926-1950 (longest serving and pictured in the centenary booklet)
Arthur Allan 1950-1953
John Drysdale 1953-1959
John K. Rodger 1959-1964
Matthew Clark, Jr. 1964-1967
Donald Galbraith 1967-1979?
Clerks of the Deacons' Court Rutherglen East Parish Church
1881-1883 James Wilson
1883-1885 Alexander T. Brown
1885-1886 John Middleton
1886-1887 Ebeneezer McNally
1887-1890 William Wilson
1890-1893 John Cook
1893-1900 John Thompson
1900-1904 Robert Armstrong
1904-1911 Frank Wilson
1911-1916 John MacLeod
1916-1918 Rev. William Lindsay
1918-1922 David M. Paul
1922-1938 John Orr
1938-1943 David Brown
1943-1947 Tom Walker
1947-1951 W.B. Morice
1951-1964 James Alexander
1964- James Lindsay
Sunday School Superintendents Rutherglen East Parish Church
19??-1918 M. Norwood
1918-1930 W. Limpetlaw
1930-1932 A. C. Birrel
1932-1938 John Hutcheon
1938-1945 William Wilson
1946-1952 Alexander Rue
1952-1954 William Core
1954-1957 George M. Allan
1957-1961 James Laughlan
1961-1963 George M. Allan
1963-1972 Harry Hartley
1972-1975 Elizabeth M. Paton
1975-1979 John Borland
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