Welcome to Springburn Parish Church


Somerville Church.

It was in 1859 that the Hope Street Free Congregation petitioned the Presbytery to begin a Gaelic Mission in the district of Port Dundas. Permission was given and a church known as the MacDonald Free Church was erected in 1851. It received full status in 1863. In 1902 the name was changed to Phoenix Park United Free Church.
In 1874, mission work was begun in what was described then as the "suburban district of Keppochhill" and was initiated from the West Church (Free St. Matthew's). They met first in a hall and then in an iron church. This charge was sanctioned in 1888, and was called the Keppochhill Free Church, and later becoming Somerville Free Church. The permanent buildings were erected in 1895.
In 1907 the Phoenix Park congregation united with Somerville United Free Church, becoming known as Somerville Memorial. The Phoenix Park Buildings have long been demolished, as have the Somerville buildings which were situated at the corner Of Pinkston Road and Keppochhill Road, the site becoming a petrol filling station, and now being used for car sales.
On 25th December, 1965, Somerville Memorial congregation united with Cowlairs, forming the congregation of Cowlairs Somerville.
 

Who was Somerville?

It is as well to begin with an extract from a document which states "Some time ago it was proposed to erect the Somerville Memorial Church, at Keppochhill, Glasgow, a tribute to the memory of one, who was justly styled "the Evangelist Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland."
The Rev. A. N. Somerville, D.D., was born in Edinburgh on 30th January 1813, just four months before Robert McCheyne, who was his bosom friend who was born in the same city on 21st May following. In their youth it is said that they were like Siamese twins, inseparable. "They sat beside each other in the same classroom, they came and went together, usually they were seen walking side by side in the street; or if one of them turned a corner, the other was sure to come in sight a minute or two after." Both had early given themselves to Christ, and the "holy dew of a consecrated youth rested on them." They both entered the ministry of the Church of Scotland, Robert McCheyne going to Dundee in a ministry which lasted for only six years, but a period where he made a marked impression on the Church generally, drawing large crowds by his preaching and manner.
Somerville went to Glasgow and was minister of the same church for more than forty years. He came out of the Church at the Disruption and preached his last sermon in Anderston in 1843. The Free Church sent him to Canada in 1845. When a revival movement, which had begun in America, reached this country in 1858, his church was open for divine service for eleven months, every day of the week except Saturdays. With Moody and Sankey he cooperated most cordially. He was an active member of the Scottish National Bible Society, a promoter of the Evangelical Alliance, secretary to a Ladies Committee for Leghorn in Italy, and profoundly interested in a mission to Spain, as well as helping other congregations at home.
In his sixty-second year, in 1874 he went to India to arouse his fellow countrymen to earnestness in spiritual things. He went to Canada, and then Australia for eighteen months. Fifty ministers of different denominations in Melbourne invited him to a communion service, which was attended by four thousand communicants, He had a reputation as an evangelist, but the secret of his influence was not mere eloquence, but his glowing love, his fervent appeals, his extraordinary vivacity, the energetic action of his body and winning expression of his faces all sanctified by the grace of God. It was said by someone that the radiance so habitual to his face was felt to be a fitting thing in one who brought good news, for he was always radiant and cheerful, and disposed to look on the bright side of things; His own personal appreciation of the Gospel and enjoyment of it as he spoke were so manifest that the audience was brought into ready sympathy with him, and a harmonious feeling spread through them all.
In 1886 he was elected as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. There he spoke of his discovery of a new prayer book; "Johnston's Pocket Atlas". In his opening prayer he went round the world, praying for every country by name. Each day some particular part of the world was selected for special intercession. It was said that many ministers felt admonished and rebuked, and they determined to be more specific in intercessory prayer thereafter.
The last weeks of Dr. Somerville's life were spent at Kirn. His last public service was leading in prayer at a communion in the United Presbyterian Church at Kirn. He returned to Glasgow on 17th September 1889. In the Wednesday of that week he died in the arms of one of his sons.
© Frank Myers 1997








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