Aberdeen Church History
HISTORY OF THE ABERDEEN SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH
By Mary Grieve, November 1999
Foreword - by Pastor Brian McCormac
It is very appropriate that Miss Grieve should be the official historian of the Aberdeen Seventh-day Adventist Church, as she is the daughter of the very first members of that group. Mary Grieve is our living link with the past, and we are very grateful to her for her painstaking researches into the 86-year story of the Adventist mission and witness in Scotland’s Granite city.
Without her personal recollections and her methodical sifting of the written records, we might have lost much important information which reminds us how God has guided His Adventist family over the years. "We have nothing to fear for the future..."
Miss Grieve has provided us with a permanent reminder of the past, so that we have renewed encouragement and hope through Jesus Christ for the future.
It was in 1903 that Brother and Sister Grieve and their family came to Aberdeen from Kircaldy. They had become Seventh-day Adventists after attending an evangelistic series conducted in Kircaldy by Pastor A. Ritchie. The Grieves welcomed this new understanding of God, and were baptised along with other candidates from an Edinburgh campaign on September 23rd, 1903.
Brother Grieve came to Aberdeen to share this truth about God with others. Taking the books Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine by Dr. John Kellog, and Volume 1 of the Spirit of Prophesy by Ellen G. White, he began to sell form door to door throughout the North of Scotland. One Monday morning in Peterhead, he met David Morrison, a young man also selling books to earn his following year’s college scholarship. The two men became firm friends, and shared accommodation for the week, arriving in Aberdeen for the Sabbath morning worship services.
When David Morrison returned to college, the Grieves were left to continue their work alone, which they did for several years. Sister Grieve sold Our Paradise Home, and the magazine Present Truth, which then retailed for one penny a copy. This work became increasingly difficult, and eventually Brother Grieve had to return to his trade as a carpenter.
Meanwhile in Canada, a Scot named Kennedy living in Vancouver heard those same Three Angel’s Messages which Brother and Sister Grieve had accepted. When he returned to his native Aberdeen, he met the Grieves and was dismayed to find so little help being given to the Seventh-day Adventist group. He wrote to the British Union Conference urging them to send a full-time worker to Aberdeen.
The response was to send Pastor W.R.A. Madgwick to the city, where, in 1929, with his Bible-worker wife, he held evangelistic meetings at the Grand Central Picture House in George Street. Five people accepted this truth about Jesus Christ, and joined the Adventist family.
The year was 1931. Another Bible worker, Sister Archibald, was sent to Aberdeen, and five more people were added to the group.
In the same year, Pastor Musdely baptised all ten new members, and the 15-strong Aberdeen group was officially formed as a Company.
Pastor Samuel Joyce came to Aberdeen in 1932, and with the help of the tent master Brother Standish, Miss McRorie (subsequently the late Mrs Gibson) and Miss Bull, conducted a tent campaign at the Hardgate. Following up these meetings with others in Rubislaw Hall, Leadside Road, Pastor Joyce baptised 21 new members and added 2 more by vote. Then November 1934 saw Pastor J.C. French holding a further campaign.
Sabbath 27th April 1935 was a red-letter day. Aberdeen ceased to be a Company, and was formed as the Aberdeen Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the presence of Pastor Reid, Union President, and Pastor L. Murdoch, President of the Scottish Mission, 29 of the 36 members signed the covenant to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
Three months later, on July 27th, Pastor Murdoch was back with Pastor O.M. Dorland, to ordain Brother Kennedy as elder and Brother McRae as Deacon. Shortly afterwards, meetings began at the Welfare Clinic in Torry.
However, the new church had to manage without a minister for a while when Pastor French was called away. Care of the church fell to Brother Kennedy, with help from Brother and Sister Redhouse, and occasional visits from Sister Archibald, stationed in Dundee.
The Redhouses found themselves with dual responsibilities for the Welfare Department and for the Youth Society. One of their best-remembered achievements is the youth programme ‘The Plan of Redemption’.
In 1937 the church moved to 47 Marischal Street, a more spacious meeting place. On 11th April the Hall was dedicated for worship.
In October of the same year, Sister Archibald was succeeded by Pastor and Mrs Morrison. In 1938, with the assistance of Pastor K.A. Elias, a campaign began in the Music Hall. Brother E. Butters arrived shortly afterwards to help in the programme.
Even so, by 1939 membership had fallen to 25. A further campaign was launched, and 7 new members joined. Two follow-up campaigns in August and November brought the membership up to 35.
1941 saw the departure of the Morrisons to Dundee, and the arrival of Pastor and Mrs H.T. Johnson, who held a campaign in the Oddfellows Hall, Belmont Street. 7 new members were baptised on 27th October, and 1 added by vote.
Evangelistic campaigns were evidently annual events in the Aberdeen church, and the war years were no exception. The 1942 campaign in the Music Hall added 3 new members by baptism, then 6 from the 1943 campaign in the Northern Hotel, bringing the total to 43.
On 1st January 1944, Brother Watson arrived. While he conducted a campaign in the Oddfellows Hall, Pastor Johnson was running a concurrent outreach in the Central Hall. The meetings were eventually combined. Later the same year, Brother Watson left for Glasgow, to be replaced by Brother Rosier. 4 new members were baptised on 16th December.
1945 brought a new departure in evangelism. Brother Rosier experimented with meetings in Banchory, and baptised one person. In the same year, Pastor & Mrs Johnson moved on. His name is still well-remembered for his good work for the church in the war years. Among those he baptised were Brother and Sister Catto. Brother Catto was killed by enemy action shortly afterwards, and Mrs Catto and their baby daughter, bombed out of the family home, were cared for by Pastor and Mrs Johnson until they could help her to obtain employment at the Stanborough Press, then in Watford. Her baby daughter Carol attended Stanborough School, and eventually married a young Adventist minister. The Johnson’s influence had far reaching effects.
1947, and Stonehaven was the location for the next campaign. The newly arrived Pastor and Mrs K. Lacey, with the help of Bible Worker Miss Hanna, baptised 4 on May 7th and another 1 on June 30th. Membership now stood at 46.
When Pastor Lacey held meetings at the Palace Picture House, public response was so great that many prospective attenders were disappointed at being turned away. At the conclusion of this campaign, Pastor Lacey baptised 21 people. The congregation of 67 now found the Marischal Street Hall too small for them, and so all worships and meetings were transferred to the Shepherds Hall, Union Terrace.
The time came for the Laceys to move on, and farewell were said to them and to Miss Cowan, the Bible Worker who had assisted them. Pastor and Mrs McGougan arrived in 1950, and in 1951 baptised 2. The congregation found itself on the move again, this time to 60 Langstane Place.
On July 28th of the same year, Pastor McGougan left, to be replaced by Pastor and Mrs Victor Hall. Pastor Hall began a campaign in the Torry Garden City Junior Secondary School in October, and had attendances of 75. One person was baptised in the following January, bringing the membership to 53.
In April 1953 a Publishing Convention was held with Brother Roe, Scottish Publishing Secretary, and visiting Pastors A.W. Cook and R.D. Vine. Before their departure in September 1953, Pastor and Mrs Hall added another 2 members.
With the arrival of Pastor H. Humpries in 1954, 5 more members were added. In April the following year, Pastor Humpries was replaced by Brother George Crutchfield. Membership at the end of that year stood at 56.
1956 brought a campaign conducted by local Elder Brother Hay in the Community Centre, Peterculter. Minister George Crutchfield started his own campaign in the Music Hall in October, aided by Miss Mitchell, Bible Worker. In all, 13 were baptised before George Crutchfield took his leave of Aberdeen.
28th November 1958 was memorable for the opening of the church building in 13 Dee Place. Local Minister Edgar Hulbert was joined for this occasion by Pastor Tarr, Pastor Kinman, and Pastor J.A. McMillan. At last, thanks in no small measure to the hard work of Pastor Hulbert, the church was settled in its own place of worship.
During the morning service of that first Sabbath, Victor John, the infant son of Pastor and Mrs Hulbert, was dedicated to the Lord by Pastor Kinman. Then, in the afternoon, 2 new members were added by baptism, and one by vote.
The dedication of the church had to wait until the building was free of debt, in 1960. 8 more baptisms had taken place by the time of the Dedication Service on June 10th by Pastor McMillan and Pastor W. Newman.
Preaching from Joshua 1:6, Pastor Hulbert conducted his final worship service in Aberdeen. Pastor Edwards took over on 26th August 1961, and was succeeded in October 1963 by Pastor S. Hensman.
Pastor James and Mrs Maureen Cuthell cared for Aberdeen church from 1967 to 1971, and their daughter Helen was borne here in 1967. Then Pastor and Mrs Walton, probably the longest serving ministry team to occupy the Aberdeen pastorate, took over. Their nine-year ministry ended with the retirement of Pastor Walton in 1980.
Pastor Fred Mazzaferri arrived in the same year to serve as part-time Minister while working on his doctoral thesis. During his pastorate, the church celebrated 25 years at 13 Dee Place.
The current minister, David Sutherland and his wife Gloria took over from Fred Mazzaferri in September 1985. For some time, various plans had been considered for replacing the church building or moving to another site. Various options were carefully investigated, but it eventually became clear that God was guiding us to rebuild on our present site.
With encouragement and financial help form Len Eastwood, Treasurer of the North British Conference, and with the approval and support of Pastor Ronald Surridge and his Executive Committee, plans for the new church were drawn up in 1987.
In February 1988, a JCB digger took a large bite out of the old church building, and demolition was under way. We were blessed in having the newly-refurbished ground floor of the Manse to use as a chapel for Sabbath services while the building was in progress. The whole project took almost 14 months to complete, not least because a severe setback occurred when it was discovered that the foundations had been built on soft earth, and large section had to be torn up and replaced. This occasioned long delays, as well as heavily increased costs. God provided money, as we needed it, and the final cost, though way over budget, has left the church with relatively small indebtedness. Experience of God’s miraculous provision assures us that even this outstanding amount will soon be paid off.
April 22nd 1989. The official opening day of the new church Pastor John Arthur, British Union Conference President, Pastor Ronald Surridge, North British Conference President and guest speaker for the Divine Service Bill Beamish, NBC Treasurer and Pastor Bob Rodd, District Leader for Scotland, together with a large number of visitors form other Scottish churches, are with us for this special day.
For the first time in its 86-year history, Aberdeen Seventh-day Adventist Church has its very own purpose built church. This together with facilities in the Manse, will enable another dream to be realised - a representative witness to Aberdeen people of the love and care of Jesus Christ, to whom all credit is due, and on whose name we hold this magnificent building in trust.
In 1992 Pastor David Sutherland and his wife Gloria, were called to the South England Conference, and Pastor Russell Bryan moved up to Aberdeen from Edinburgh. In 1996/7 it was decided by the Scottish Mission that the Manse was in great need of repair, but because of the cost it was decided put it up for sale. In 1998 the Manse was sold. To replace the facilities lost the church began to look at building an extension. A number of options were considered and in the end a large Conservatory was agreed on.
In July 1998 Pastor Russell Bryan and his wife Linda, and their family left Aberdeen for Glasgow, and Pastor Brian McCormac and his wife May, moved up from Glasgow to begin ministry in Aberdeen.
Late in 1998 the work on the Conservatory began and was completed early 1999. During the last quarter of 1998 Aberdeen church took part in the Net 98 satellite programme and three souls were added to the church, through baptism. Early in 1999 a forth was added.
At present the church is preparing to host the Millennium of Prophecy Seminar beginning on 14th November.
" PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW"
Last updated 25 June 2001