UNITED FREE CHURCH, GLASGOW
It is not easy now to picture what Pollokshields was like fifty years ago. There has been little change in the vicinity of our Church during the past 35 or 40 years, although the city boundaries are now far to the southward, but during the ten years preceding 1885 the changes which take place when a new suburb opens up and building operations start were many and rapid. For long there had been a village of Pollokshields, which later came to rejoice in the dignity of a burgh. There were in fat two burghs - Pollokshields and Pollokshields East - the dividing line being Shields Road, and each had its Provost and Councillors or Commissioners. For some years prior to 1875 building had been slow but steady, and by that year many villas and tenements stood here and there among green fields. Near the site of our Church there was an old farm steading and thatched mill shed and a deep country lane behind. Half-formed streets had begun to intersect the farms as the growing population of the city began to seek residences in what was then a country district.
At that time there were no Free Churches nearer than Victoria Church at Eglinton Toll and Kinning Park Church at the corner of Scotland Street and Shields Road. Families who had come to reside in the district, and who were connected with churches in the city, began to see the desirability of having regular Gospel ordinances provided for themselves nearer their homes, and about the end of 1874 it was decided by a few gentlemen to take steps to form a congregation of the Free Church. Dr. Adam, one or the Directors of the Glasgow Free Church Building Society, was asked to call a meeting of those interested in the matter, and an advertisement in the following terms appeared in the Glasgow Herald of 4th January, 1875:-
" A Meeting or those favourable to the formation of a new Free Church Congregation in the district or Pollokshields will be held in Mr. Mavor’s Institution, Maxwell Road, on Tuesday first, the 5th inst., at 7.30 evening. All friendly to the object are earnestly invited to attend. Dr. Adam and other Directors of the Glasgow Free Church Building Society will be present and confer with the parties."
No minute of the meeting held on that date has been presented, Only six or eight persons responded to the advertisement, but the small attendance was no doubt due to the New Year holidays, and the little company were not discouraged. They arranged to call a further meeting, to be held on 9th January at the same place. That meeting was well attended. Dr. Adam presided, and the minute, which is the first in the books of the Deacons' Court, records that it was unanimously resolved to take steps for the formation of a Free Church Congregation and for the erection of a Church "on the site secured at the junction of Shields and Nithsdale Roads." The meeting further appointed the following gentlemen as a Committee to consider how best this resolution could be carried out - "whether by the erection of a Church or of a Hall in the meantime, and also what steps should be taken for commencing religious services in the district with the sanction of the Presbytery, viz.:- Messrs. Wm. B. Barr, John Cameron, Andrew Clement, Wm. Gibb, J. Lang Glen, Rev. James Mavor, Messrs. John C. Munn, John Murray, James Sinclair, and John Sommerville; Messrs. Gibb and Munn, Joint Conveners.”
The first meeting of the Committee was held on 29th January, 1875, and the Rev. Robert Howie, who attended, made an offer that if £2000 were raised in the district within three weeks, and if £1500 were given by the Free Church Building Society for the purpose of building the Church, he would undertake to raise a further sum of £2000 for the same purpose. The Committee made arrangements at once to visit in the district and procure subscriptions, and at the next meeting, less than three weeks afterwards, it was reported that £1897 had already been subscribed. Handsome donations were received from Sir William Stirling Maxwell, Bart, or Pollok, and from other gentlemen in the neighbourhood, some or whom belonged to other Churches and other denominations. It was agreed then to proceed with the erection of a hall meantime, so that services could be begun on as early a date as possible.
The charge was sanctioned by the General Assembly in May of the same year, and the Presbytery of Glasgow were authorised to settle a Minister on the fulfilment of certain conditions.
The erection of the temporary iron church was immediately undertaken. It was seated for about 400, and when opened more than half of the sittings had been let. As soon as instructions for its erection had been given the Committee took the necessary steps for calling a Minister. Only one name appears to have been considered by them - that of the Rev. James Wells, of the Free Barony Church, Glasgow. He had been approached by the Committee immediately after their first meeting, but had informed them he did not see his way to entertain the proposal that he should come to Pollokshields. On 30th August, 1875, however, the Committee at a meeting unanimously passed the following resolution: -
"The Committee, considering it of the utmost importance that they have, at as early a date as possible, placed in charge of the undertaking, a regularly ordained Minister qualified to occupy this hopeful field of labour, and who would secure the confidence and co-operation of those in the district likely to take an interest in the movement, and being of opinion that the Rev. James Wells, of Barony
Free Church, has proved himself eminently qualified to occupy such a position, did and hereby do, unanimously resolve, in terms of the Assembly's deliverance, to select him as the first Minister of this charge, and resolve to ask the Free Presbytery of Glasgow to take the necessary steps for his transference."
The Memorial to the Presbytery was signed by the Rev. James Mavor, Messrs. W. B. Barr, John Boyd, Wm. Gibb, James Henry, John C. Munn, John Murray, and James Sinclair. At the Presbytery meeting on 2nd November, Mr. Wells signified his willingness to accept the call, and his translation was agreed to.
Mr. Wells had already been a minister In Glasgow for 13 years, first in the Wynd Church and afterwards in the Barony. These had been strenuous years spent in the most difficult Home Mission districts of Glasgow, and, although a young man, it was recognised that few knew the Home Mission problem of these days as he did. His heart was in the work, and his experiences, told in his fascinating book, Rescuers and Rescued, reveal how the work held him. We are fortunate in having in our possession a cutting from the Glasgow Herald of 3rd November, 1875, containing Mr. Wells's address to the Presbytery when accepting the call. He told that while the call was in many ways attractive, the reason he had declined the invitation when it first came to him was that "he would not be in a locality where he could give a good part of his time to the special kind of work he had hitherto been privileged to engage in. He had found from experience that work among the poorest was not the poorest work, nor was it less alluring or less rewarding than it had been." The founders of the new Church, however, had resolved and assured him that Home Mission work would be engaged in, and that was an additional attraction. There follows an interesting piece of autobiography. "I left the Hall at a pretty early age, and have laboured in the Wynds for four years, partly in the Wynds and partly in Townhead for one and a half years, and in the Free Barony for eight years. During eleven years I have had, besides almost nightly meetings, three services on Sabbath, and one of them for six months in the year in the open air. An empty Church had to be filled in the Wynds and a congregation formed in the Townhead and another at Blochairn. Pardon this bit of autobiography, as without it I could not reveal my position or prove so clearly that if a translation is ever allowable or helpful, mine is a good case for it. I cannot plead a breakdown in health; I am not weary of my present work; I certainly do not think that, as some have phrased it to me, years of mission effort earn the right to a change, for Home Mission work has never been a sacrifice to me; but for the first time in my life I have come slowly and reluctantly to the conclusion that a fresh start would stimulate any power of serving-Christ at my disposal. The step I am taking will not make me an exile from the Home Mission work to which I have hitherto gladly given my heart and hand."
Mr. Wells began his ministry here on Sunday, 21st November, 1875, the day on which the iron church was opened, Dr, Robert T. Jeffrey, Caledonia Road U.P. Church, preached in the morning from the text, Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion" (Isaiah iii. 1), In the afternoon Mr. Wells took for the text of his first sermon in his new sphere "The light of the glorious Gospel of Christ" (2 Cor. iv. 4). The evening service was conducted by the Rev. Prof. Candlish, D. D. There was a large attendance at all the services, and the collection for the day amounted to £ 134 10s. 1d.
On the previous evening, at a meeting held in the Rev. Mr. Mavor’s school, Devonbank, Maxwell Drive, at which the Rev. Robert Howie presided, Mr. Mavor, in name of the ladies of the district, presented the new minister with a pulpit gown and cassock,
The first Communion Service was held in January, 1876, when 44 sat at the Table of the Lord's Supper. A considerable addition to the membership roll was, made by the next Communion. Until comparatively recently some of these were still with us, but all who joined the fellowship of the Church during the first year' have now entered on their rest. The last of them, Mr. Archibald Stewart and Mrs. John Cameron, died during this present year.
During the first year the affairs of the congregation were managed by an interim Kirk Session nominated by the Presbytery and by the members of the original Committee, whose election, along with additional members, had been ratified by the Congregation. In November 1876, arrangements were made for the election of a permanent Session, and on 14th January, 1877, the following twelve members were ordained or admitted to the eldership:- Rev. James Mavor, Messrs. Wm. B. Barr, John Boyd, John Burns, Andrew Clement, James Henry, John Keir, Peter MacGregor, Robert Scott, Wm. Simpson, James Sinclair, and Wm. Turnbull.
In March of the same year thirteen Deacons were admitted to office:- Dr. Andrew Nicol, Messrs. Alexander Adam, Robert Geddes, jun., Wm. Gibb, Robert McAdam, Donald McArthur, David McGibbon, John C. Munn, Robert Patrick, John Service, Osbourne Smith, Archibald Stewart, and Robert Stirling.
The congregation was fortunate in the days when the important work of the erection of the new Church was undertaken, in having as members of the Session and Deacons' Court men of such well-known business capacity. Some of them held public positions in the City. The first Session Clerk was Mr. James Henry, who for many years held the important position of City Assessor of Glasgow. The Clerk of the original Committee of Management was Mr. Wm. Gibb, who for a considerable period was the principal Collector of Assessments in the city. He conducted the business of the Committee with singular ability, and his daughter some years ago presented to the Deacons' Court a book which he had preserved containing newspaper reports of the opening of the iron Church and the laying of the memorial stone and opening of the present building'.
Meantime the erection of the new Church was being proceeded with, the work having been put into the hands of Messrs. J. McKissock and W. G. Rowan, Architects. While we are all familiar with the interior and exterior of our Church, few of us probably could give a description of the building we know so well. The architects’ description fifty years ago is as follows:
The new Church occupies a commanding site at the junction of Shields Road and Nithsdale Road, The principal entrance faces Eastwards towards Shields Road, and the four sides are exposed to view as one passes along the roadways which bound the site on the south and East. Almost the whole of the mason work has been polished, and the architectural treatment of the sides and back was made more ornate than would have been necessary had the site not been surrounded by villas. The principal doorway is ornamented with fluted Doric columns, with suitable entablature and pediment, the apex of which is crowned by a carved stone terminal. In the upper part of the east front, and over this doorway there is a tetra-style Ionic portico, the fluted columns of which are about 19 feet high, with Corinthian capitals flanked by coupled antæ, having moulded bases and moulded and delicately carved Capitals. The depth or the colonnade is 10 feet and forms one or the principal features of the Church, The gable in the west elevation is enriched with coupled pilasters. The vestibule, 41 feet by 13 feet, is reached by two flights of five steps each, the uppermost being under cover of the porch. Flanking the vestibule north and south are the tower and east staircases in which rise spacious stairs to the galleries. The area or the Church, 60 feet by 70 feet, is entered from the vestibule by a single doorway 6 feet wide facing the pulpit, and is semi-circular on plan under galleries opposite the pulpit. Two cloakrooms are provided entering off the vestibule. The Church is roofed in one span with flat ceiling 35 feet high from floor of area, and is seated to accommodate 1000 persons. The tower is situated at the south-east angle of the building and rises to a height of about I55 feet above the level of Shields Road. Under the area or the Church are placed the hall, 60 feet by 37 feet, having a ceiling 12 feet high; ladies' room, session house, vestry, Originally there was also a Church Officer's house, but this, on account or the space being otherwise required, was converted into what came to be known as the "New Hall " and is now the Session Room. The style of the building is classic of a Greek type, although the architects disclaimed any intention or realising this style with anything approaching to absolute severity.
The bell in the tower was the gift of Mr. James Sinclair, and two of the Deacons, Mr. Osbourne Smith and Mr. Hatrick, at their own expense, laid out the Church grounds and planted them with shrubs.
The memorial stone in the south-east corner of the tower was laid on Saturday, 22nd September, 1877, by Mr. James Campbell or Tullichewan.
The opening of the new Church took place on Sabbath, 26th May, 1878 during the sittings of the General Assembly in Glasgow, The morning service was conducted by the Rev. Dr. Andrew Thomson, Edinburgh, while the afternoon and evening services were respectively conducted by the Rev. Dr. Goold, ex-moderator of the Assembly, and Dr. Jamcs Stcwart, of Lovedale, The offerings that day amounted to £ 1408 6s. 8d. The Special Services connected with the opening of the Church were continued on the following Sabbath, when the Rev. Principal Rainy preached in the morning the Rev. Alex Whyte, of St. George’s, Edinburgh, in the afternoon, and the Rev. J. Hood Wilson, or the Barclay Church, Edinburgh, in the evening. The offering's that day amounted to £94 9s 10d. - making in all £1502 16s 6d.
The total cost of the building, including the iron church, was over £15,000. The estimate had been £12,550, but this, as is usually the case, was exceeded. Building prices were high at the time, and unforeseen difficulties in connection with the foundation also added to the expense. Even the original estimate had been considered by some to be a large sum to spend on a church, but the Committee, taking into account the munificent gifts which some of the founders had made, thought they were justified in erecting a building somewhat ornamental. After the Church was opened there remained a debt of £8608. The failure of the City of Glasgow Bank prevented some who had been generous subscribers to the building fund from carrying out their intention to contribute further sums. The minutes of the Deacons' Court show how steadily the Building Committee worked to wipe out the debt and interest, and at the Annual Meeting in March 1891, Mr. Barr, the Convener of the Committee, was able to announce that the buildings were free of debt. Without any aid from bazaars £8000 of the debt was paid off in eight years after the opening of the Church. In Dr. Wells's words, the congregation "to the architectural graces of the fabric added the crowning grace of debt dissolving liberality." Probably their efforts had been stimulated by the remarks of Mr. Campbell at the laying of the memorial stone, that "no man attended very well to his business who had a large balance at his bankers. The burden of the debt should not prove an incubus but a real incentive to further exertion." A remark made on the same occasion by Dr. Adam makes interesting reading in view of recent happenings not very far away: - "How much more pleasant it is to see churches rising as the result of the voluntary liberality or the people who are building them rather than by the money produced by any assessment legally made and compulsorily enforced."
On several occasions gifts to furnish and beautify the Church have been made by members in memory of departed relatives. In 1881 the Session Clerk, Mr. James Henry, presented Communion plate in memory of his wife, and a few years later Mrs. Osbourne Smith presented additional plate in memory of her husband, In 1881 also a complete set of clasp fasteners for the Communion cloths was presented by Mr. Daniel Mackay. On a more recent occasion gifts were anonymously made by members of the embroidered cloth which rests on the Communion table and of the salver for the offerings and the flower vases.
In April, 1880, an invitation was presented to Mr. Wells to take over the pastorate of Canning Street Presbyterian Church, Liverpool, but to the great satisfaction of his people he declined the call.
The growth of the congregation was steady, the membership and the givings increasing each year, and Mr. Wells found ample scope for the exercise of a strenuous ministry and for the development of all the organisations and activities or a fully equipped congregation. The Church became the centre of a widespread moral and religious influence. By the time of Dr. Wells's Jubilee in 1914, some months after he had handed over the greater part or the work to his colleague, no fewer than 3510 names in all had been placed upon the Communion Roll, or whom 1413 had made their first public confession or faith under his ministry, and the total sum raised up to that year by the congregation for all purposes since its formation was over £136,000. No Church could have had a harder working minister and pastor. By precept and example he set before his people high ideals of life and character which bore abundant fruit among a loyal, harmonious, and attached people, who deemed it a privilege under his wise leadership to have a share in many Christian enterprises. In the address presented to him at his Jubilee, the Session and Deacons' Court said:- "We cannot adequately set forth the distinguishing features of your ministry but we would make grateful mention or your wise and early recognition of the place of the child in the Church, which found expression especially in the monthly children's services which you were, we believe, one of the first in Scotland to institute; your thoughtful and consistent advocacy of temperance; your sympathetic co-operation in evangelistic movements - it was in response to your invitation that Messrs. Moody and Sankey began their great work in Glasgow in 1874; your zeal for union among the Presbyterian Churches; and last, but not least, your deep and wholehearted interest in Foreign Missions, of which you and your family have given signal proof in the devotion by your eldest daughter of her life to that cause. In a truly catholic spirit you have sought ‘by all means’ to serve the Church of Christ, ever keeping in view that, as expressed by yourself, 'the chief end of the Church embraces worship, instruction, evangelism, character building, and Christ, like philanthropy.' "
Services for the young have always been a feature of the Church, and during the first 26 years of our history, when services were held in the afternoon instead of as now in the evening, the afternoon service on the first Sabbath of each month was entirely a children's one, when the young folks occupied the area of the Church and their seniors the side seats and galleries. During that period Mr. Wells published no fewer than six volumes of the addresses given at these services. These are in the possession of many of the families in the Church, and the addresses are still read with interest by those to whom they were delivered so long ago.
During the “eighties” many series of Evangelistic Services were held, the most fruitful of all being the efforts among young men in 1886 and 1887. Most of the meetings were conducted by the late Mr. W. A. Campbell (of the well-known Glasgow firm of J. & W. Campbell & Company) and some of the others by Lord Overtoun, then Mr John Campbell White. All who had received special help from these Missions were invited to a Social Meeting at the close of the first winter, and the invitation was accepted by 144. At the close of the second winter the number had grown to about 300. The appeals were made not so much to the emotions as to the reason, the conscience and common sense, and the results in most cases were lasting. The fruits of the Mission were reflected in the large accession to the membership of the Young Men's Morning Meeting, held before the forenoon service, and in the numbers who devoted themselves to the various organisations connected with the Mission in Kinning Park. Dr. Wells always looked back on these days as among the happiest of his ministry. In his booklet, published at the time of our Semi-Jubilee in 1900, he acknowledges that "no doubt, many were swept by the current further than their solitary convictions would have carried them. It was not east to resist the happy infection of such a genial atmosphere. The sympathisers were not tested then:; but these years have applied the hardest of all tests. Why should we not expect such days of grace to be repeated among us?" Some who are still with us, and many others who have gone, owe their interest in and their work for the advancement of the Kingdom of God to the impressions they received at that time.
Arduous though the work connected with a large congregation and Home mission must have been, Dr. Wells rendered many services to the Church at large, and on several occasions was her deputy to other lands,. For eleven years he was Joint Convener of the General Assembly’s Home Mission Committee and for six years Convenor of the Jewish Committee. At the request of the Church he went in 1884 to Palestine and prepared the way for the founding of the Sea of Galilee Missions at Tiberias and Safed under the late Dr. Torrance. Again 1891 he visited these stations and other Missions to the Jews. It was while on this visit that he met with an accident through being thrown from his horse among stones near Tyre, which necessitated his undergoing a serious operation on his return home and being absent from his pulpit for several months At our Semi-Jubilee in 1900 he was able to say, " during these 25 years I have not had one silent Sabbath from poor health, though I have twice been exiled from my pulpit by broken bones.” His people were sharers to a large extent in these tours, for on each occasion he sent home journals of his travels which were printed and circulated among the congregation and afterwards published in book form under the titles of Through Bible Lands and Bible Lands Revisited. Later, when he visited the Mission Stations in India in 1900 and in South Africa in 1905 he again wrote journals, which were published under the titles Across India and In South Africa, and were distributed among the congregation.
On 26th November, 1889, the members of the congregation had the pleasure of celebrating their Minister’s Semi-Jubilee as a minister in Glasgow. At a social gathering, presided over by Mr. John Boyd, H.M. Inspector of Schools, Mr. Wells was presented with an illuminated address and a cheque 1for £500, and Mrs. Wells with a silver tea kettle, In the course or his address on that occasion Mr. Wells dwelt on what he always looked forward to and what, after a further period or 30 years, is now appreciably nearer –the Union of the Churches. "While decidedly a Free Church man from conviction, I fervently hope that something will be done, and done soon, to lesson the divisions which are the standing reproach of our nation and our common Christianity. My dream is to see in Scotland a united Church, thoroughly evangelical and evangelistic, touching our national life at every point."
In 1893 the University or Edinburgh conferred on Mr. Wells the honorary degree of Doctor or Divinity in recognition of his many services to the Church and his eminence as a preacher and an author.
In that year also the Church was closed during the summer months while an extensive scheme of painting and redecoration was carried out at a cost of £760. The original scheme had been of a dark colour not unlike what we now have once more, but brightened somewhat by panels round the gallery with paintings of Bible flowers and plants. The decoration scheme of' 1893 was in marked contrast to both the original colouring and the present, and never met with anything like general approval.
Until 1891 the praise services were unaccompanied, the fine singing of the large congregation, always led by a good choir, being a feature often commented on. In the year 1888 a plebiscite of the Congregation was taken on a proposal to introduce an American organ, but only about one-half or the members voted, and the majority in favour or the proposal was so small that the matter was allowed to drop. Three years later, however, a further vote was taken, with the result that instrumental music was introduced. Six years afterwards, in 1897 the present fine organ was installed by Messrs. Norman &: Beard, of Norwich, at the cost of nearly £1400, and it was inaugurated at the services on Sunday, 21st November (the twenty-second anniversary of the opening of the iron church), which were conducted by the late Rev. Dr. Hugh McMlillan, of Greenock. Although to many of us it seems, but a short time since these days, one cannot help remarking on the change which has taken place in our views regarding instrumental music in the sanctuary. Nowadays we see nothing out of place in organ recitals and violin music in Church on Sunday, but when the organ was introduced there was considerable opposition even to the playing of voluntaries, and for many years, as a compromise, only a voluntary at the opening of the service was allowed.
In 1900 the Union or the Free and United Presbyterian Churches took place, and our Church, till then "Pollokshields Free Church," became known by its present name, It was also the Semi-Jubilee year of our own congregation, An effort had been made that year by the Deacons' Court to raise one thousand guineas before the middle of "March, when the annual accounts closed, so that ail debts connected with the Church and Mission should be cleared off and a sum left in hand wherewith to carry out some needed improvements in the Mission premises, This sum, with the exception of £70, was raised, and the small balance was obtained before the Semi-Jubilee date in November, To mark the Semi-Jubilee of the Church, the office-bearers arranged that Dr. Wells should have a holiday, and In November he set out to visit the Mission Stations of the United Church in India, being the first United Free Church Minister to do so. He also had the pleasure or visiting Dr. and Mrs. MacPhail at Chakai and opened Dr. MacPhail‘s new Church at Christmas time. During his absence the Rev. Frank Anderson, 'M.A., pastor or the Union Church at Constantinople, acted as locum tenens.
In the summer of 1901 the second service was changed from afternoon to the present hour in the evening, and on 8th September of that year the Church was lit for the first time by electricity. The complete installation cost about £300. When the light was first turned on in the Sabbath School, Dr. Wells asked the scholars to accept it as a parable and prophecy. “As the dim yellow gas light has yielded to a white light and stronger, so we should pray that our minds may be illuminated by a sweeter and brighter light than we have had in past days.”
There is little in our history during the next ten years calling for special mention, but it may be noted that after the House of Lords' decision in the Church case in 1904 Dr. Wells took a prominent part in advocating the cause of the United Free Church and in endeavouring to raise money to assist the dispossessed congregations. A sum of over £1150 was raised by the members or our congregation for the Emergency Fund.
In 1911 the Church which Dr. Wells had so well served for 47 years fittingly recognised his gifts and character and eminent services by electing him Moderator or the General Assembly. During' the year of his Moderatorship, when he had of necessity to be absent a great deal from his own pulpit, Dr. Wells had as assistant the Rev. J. A. Turner Kennedy, M.A. - (the only assistant minister we have had) - now the minister of Broomhill United Free Church, Glasgow.
In 1912 steps were taken to relieve Dr. Wells of part of the arduous ministry which he had carried on alone for so long, and the Assembly of that year sanctioned the proposal to call a colleague and successor. The proceedings were carried through very harmoniously, and in the spring of 1913 a unanimous call was presented to the Rev. Stuart Robertson, M.A. of Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, London. The call was accepted by Mr. Robertson, and he was inducted as colleague and successor to Dr. Wells on 30th April, 1913. Mr. Robertson was educated at Daniel Stewart’s College, Edinburgh, and after graduating in Arts at Edinburgh University he passed through the New College, Edinburgh. After being assistant for some time to the Rev. Dr. John Watson (“Ian MacLaren") in Sefton Park Church, Liverpool, and to the Rev. Dr. Munro Gibson in St. John's Wood, London, he was ordained at Forest Hill in 1903. Mr. Robertson came among us with a reputation as a scholar and preacher which he has fully sustained during the 12½ years he has been among us, and we have been singularly fortunate in having in both of our Ministers men who possessed high reputations as preachers to children, The colleagueship was a remarkably successful one, and our two ministers, so different from one another in many ways, were always happy in their relationship and in their work. For a number of years they shared the work of the pulpit, though Dr. Wells resigned the Moderatorship of Session and Deacons' Court.
Dr. Wells completed the fiftieth year of his ministry in August, 1914, and in anticipation of the event a committee was appointed early in the year to make arrangements for the important occasion being worthily celebrated. Owing to the outbreak of the War, however, the arrangements had to be greatly modified, and the social meeting which was to have been held was abandoned. Dr. Wells, with characteristic generosity, wrote to the committee that as the War had altered the situation he and Mrs. Wells desired that the presentations which the committee had decided to make should not be proceeded with. "All who are able will wish to contribute to the needs of our country, and I fear that many of our congregation will suffer serious financial loss. We shall gladly accept the will for the deed." As a considerable sum had already been received from the congregation and many former members towards the proposed gifts, however, it was decided to adhere generally to the resolution come to, and a deputation from the committee waited on Dr. and Mrs. Wells on 29th October and presented an address and also a bank deposit receipt for £350 as marks of esteem and regard for them personally and in appreciation of their work of faith and labour of love in the congregation. There was also presented by Mr. John S. Craig an album containing the photographs of 85 Elders, being all but three of the entire number who had up to that time held office in the Church since its foundation. A duplicate of the album is in the possession of the Session. A congratulatory address was also presented by the Presbytery of Glasgow. Commemoration services were held in the Church on Sabbath, 11th October, when the Rev. Principal Iverach, D.D., preached in the forenoon and Dr. Wells in the evening both to large congregations. In the afternoon a special service for the young was conducted by Mr. Robertson.
Within a few months after this happy event there came days of mourning for Dr, Wells and his family, and the congratulations of the people passed into sorrow and sympathy for them. Early in November Mrs, Wells, whose health had been failing for a long time, passed to her eternal rest, and the grave had scarcely closed, when, a week or two later, Miss Helen Wells was suddenly called home after a few days' illness. The congregation recall with thankfulness the long years which Mrs. Wells was spared to spend among us, and the fragrance and beauty of her consistent Christian life both in private in her home and in public among the congregation In the death of Miss Wells many agencies of the Church, especially the Sunday School, and the whole congregational life suffered a severe loss. The memory of her devoted life and consecrated spirit will long continue as a cherished example.
The War interfered with many of the congregational agencies. Large numbers of the young men who took part in the work were early in their country’s service, and their places were taken by older folk, As the War dragged on, the Roll of Honour increased in length and contained in all 127 names, apart from the ladies who engaged in various forms of War service. Our Memorial Communion Table, which was unveiled at a memorable service on 21st November 1920, records the names of 26 young lives which were given for their country.
In the early days of the War Mr. Robertson, while still carrying on his full share of the work of the Church, worked by day at the making of munitions for some months, In 1916 the office-bearers set him free for three months for service in France with the Young Men's Christian Association and again for the entire year 1917 during which he served as an Army Chaplain with the Black Watch at the front. During his absence Dr. Wells fulfilled all the pastoral duties. While the pulpit was occupied chiefly by the Rev. Professor (now Principal) Martin, D. D. of the New College and the Rev. E. D. Fingland, M.A.
In the year 1918 a scheme of contributing to the funds of the Church by schedule was instituted, but without the envelope system. A large measure of success attended the introduction of the scheme, and a year or two later the Freewill Offering Scheme, which has resulted in largely increased givings, was adopted.
In October, 1919, the congregation resolved, in virtue of an Act of the General Assembly of that year, to alter the constitution of the Deacons’' Court. Prior to that time Deacons were elected for life and ordained to office, and the office was tenable only by male members of the congregation. Under the new constitution the office is open to ladies, and Deacons are now appointed, without ordination, for a period not exceeding three years without re-election, Several ladies have since held the office, and the Court has benefited greatly through their membership and help,
For many years proposals for altering the position of the organ had been discussed, and it was decided in 1922 that the suggestion should be carried into effect and that at the same time the Church should be entirely redecorated. The alterations and redecoration were carried out in the summer of 1923. A chamber for the organ was built at at the back of the Church, with the result that the original proportions of the building had been restored, and the scheme of decoration is dignified in its simplicity. The total cost was about £3500.
On 18th February, 1924, Dr. Wells passed to his rest after having been Minister of the Church for more than 48 years. For a long time he had been laid aside in great weakness, and when the end came his people thought or him " as out or weakness made strong, "passed from infirmity to fullness of life with his God," The funeral service was held in the Church on 21st February, and was attended by many members and former members of the congregation. Dr. W. Mackinlosh Mackay, Moderator of the Glasgow Presbytery, conducted the service, which was taken part in by the Very Rev. Principal Mackichan, D.D., Rev. Dr. Jeffrey, and the Rev. R. Hill Thornton. Mr. Robertson, unfortunately, was unable to attend on account of illness. A brief service at the graveside in the Necropolis was conducted by Prof. W. M. Macgregor, D. D. On the forenoon of the following Sunday Dr. Jeffrey, who conducted the service, paid a fine tribute to the memory of Dr. Wells, whom he fittingly described as "a scholarly and faithful minister of the Gospel, an able expositor of the Word, and a devoted pastor and loving friend of all his members."
It would be impossible to refer adequately to the work of the many organisations which have formed part of the life of the Church during all these years.
As times have changed many of the agencies have taken new forms and adopted new activities. The congregation has always taken a real interest in the work in the Foreign Mission field. For a number of years they paid the salary of the late Dr. Kerr Cross In Nyasaland, and at present through the Women's Missionary Association support Miss Knott, their own Missionary in India.
It would be impossible, also, to mention the names of all the leading figures in the congregation who were responsible for the success of may of its undertakings, but the names of some of those who have passed from us should he recalled with thankfulness; men like Mr. W. W. Turnbull, who, besides holding the office or Session Clerk for nine years, also during the same period acted as Roll Clerk and Editor of the Quarterly Supplement; Mr. W. B. Barr, who, as Convener of the Building Fund Committee, bore a heavy responsibility and did much to secure the extinction of the debt in so short a period; Mr. Robert McAdam, who for 27 years filled the post of Congregational Treasurer; Mr. Archibald Stewart, the first Superintendent of the Mission Sunday School, a post which he occupied for 32 years; Mr. Wm, Slimmon, who was also connected with the School for over 40 years; Mr. Duncan C. Brown, who for 22 years, summer and winter, carried on the Saturday Evening Gospel Temperance Meeting in Kinning Park; Mr. David S. Salmond, who for six years acted as honorary Precentor and Choir Master; Mr. John Andrew for 22 years Clerk of the Deacons' Court; Mr. Alex. Murray, for almost 20 years Clerk of the Session; Mr. Thomas Macnair, for 25 years Treasurer of the Sustentation and Central Funds; and Mr. Henry Donaldson, who for 28 years acted as Roll Clerk. Among others who gave long and devoted service, and who are now members of other congregations, should be specially mentioned Mr. James Henry, who for nearly 40 years was connected with the congregational Sabbath School as Teacher and Superintendent. The congregation has been very fortunate in having had so few changes in the holders of its principal offices during the 50 years of its history. There have only been five occupants of each or the offices of Session Clerk, Deacons’ Court Clerk, and Roll Clerk, and only three Congregational Treasurers. We have had but two Church Officers - George Weir, a dignified impressive figure of the old type of Scottish beadle, who held office till his death in 1897, and John Ferguson, who has been with us since then, and whom we were glad to honour on the occasion of his semi-jubilee three years ago.
The total number of names which have been placed on the Communion Roll during the fifty years of our history has been 3918, and of these 1572 became communicants for the first time in our Church.
We look back with thankfulness and yet with humility on the days that are past -thankfulness for what our Church has been enabled to do and for the men and women connected with it who have passed on to us so great a heritage, humility when we think how much more we might have done. We look forward hopefully to our beloved Church being even more than in the past a place to which the people may not only repair to worship God and find grace and strength to fit them for their part in life's battle, but where they will be inspired to do something for their fellowmen. May we pass on unsullied to those who come after us the great heritage which is ours.