Welcome to Springburn Parish Church

Springburn North Church

It was in 1888 that the curiosity of young boys and others was aroused when they saw a corrugated iron building being erected in Springburn Road at the end of Hawthorn Street. They wondered to what use it was to be put. It soon became known that it was to be a place of worship. The Glasgow Free Church Presbytery had been alive to the fact that Springburn was growing to the northwards. In 1885 the minutes of the Presbytery show that it had been asked to "consider the propriety of originating another congregation in the Springburn district". After enquiry and negotiations, which revealed that with a population then of about thirty-five thousand, the whole Church accommodation of the district, including Roman Catholics, was sufficient for not more than four thousand people. The Presbytery decided in February 1868, to apply to the General Assembly for the immediate erection of a sanctioned charge. The application came before the supreme court of the Church in May, and it shows how careful and deliberate was the procedure of the Assembly, that it appointed a committee of its own to go into details of the application. On this committee's report on 6th June 1888, the Assembly sanctioned the new charge, and authorised the translation of an ordained minister to this. Services commenced in this iron structure, seating 200 people, on 19th August 1886.
This small church was crowded from the first day. Their first minister was the Rev. Alex Souter, inducted on 22nd November 1868. It is said, that as there was no vestry, Mr. Souter had occasional difficulty in getting in to conduct the service, and sometimes couldn't get in at all. On the 20th January 1699, the first Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was celebrated. There were 108 names on the Communion Roll. A year later the membership had more than doubled and numbered 261
The progress of the congregation was rapid, and it soon became evident that the work of the congregation would be greatly hindered unless steps were taken for the erection of a permanent building. A committee of six ministers and five elders was appointed by Presbytery to advise and assist the congregation. A site was secured, plans prepared, and James Reid of Hydepark Locomotive Works laid the foundation stone. Principal Rainy D.D. opened the Church on 9th June 1898. It was desired that the church be opened free of debt, but it was not to be. The building and site cost £5,300, with only £3,500 being raised. A three day bazaar held in March 1893 in the St. Andrew's Halls, raised £1,205, and by 1898 the debt was cleared. In Mr. Soutar's own words, he said "we no longer owed any man anything but love."
An interesting note, which has been included in the history, is in the number of missions that were held. The most fruitful of these was herd in 1892, and was conducted by Mr. George Clark. This mission had been planned to last a fortnight, but so great was the interest created by Mr. Clark's powerful and persuasive addresses, that he remained for six weeks. Night after night the Church was packed, and the whole district was moved. At the first Communion after the mission, no fewer than eighty-four new communicants had their names added to the roll. The life of the congregation was energised, and its faith deepened. Many of the leading workers throughout the years were first enthused in the cause of Christ at this time, and they have readily acknowledged the debt that they owed to their quickening then. One comment made by one, is as follows.
"Thinking back to that time, I am still astonished at the extraordinary success that attended Mr. Clark's mission. I heard him four times, and to the best of my recollection there was nothing sensational in his message. The degradation that sin brings into life, and the sure escape from it to be found in the grace of our Lord and Saviour, was his continual theme. Of course, the man had great personality. He had been an actor at one time and consequently his declamatory power was immense. He had also as a young man, been a famous athlete, therefore his description of how necessary to a sound physique was purity of life, was given with convincing argument. But what our eyes saw and our ears heard during that mission, words can hardly describe. Men who were besotted drunkards and with hardly a rag to their backs, found salvation through George Clark's message, and appeared clothed and in their right mind. Others, who on Saturday night, when in drink were a terror to the inhabitants of Springburn because of their fighting propensities, were converted and became henceforth stalwart fighters for the faith. And among the decent respectable part of the community who heard him, there was created a desire to do something more than had been their wont for the Master."
© Frank Myers 1997

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