Dundee Church Historical Sketch

HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE DUNDEE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH

The life of a church can be compared. to that of a human being. Three main stages can be seen in the development and progress of the individual or church. First there is the youthful stage where energy and enthusiasm abound, where the crusading spirit and evangelistic activities are carried forward with the unrestrained zeal and unhampered vigour of youth. Then the church grows to maturity, and the "prime of life" stage is reached when the mental and physical powers are at their height, but now they are tempered by wisdom, sound judgement and good balance. Finally, in the last stage, the activities of the church start to decline, and the enthusiasm wanes. The church then begins to take chief pride in the antiquity of its institutions and observances, the wealth of its experience and the beauty and value of its material possessions. Which of these stages has the Dundee Seventh-day Adventist Church reached?

Seventh-day Adventist work in Dundee was put on an organised basis in the year 1917 when a company was founded with 8 members. All 8 were ladies, and this set a pattern that has held good right up to the present. Dundee owes a tremendous debt to the faithful and hardworking women who have always made up the majority of the congregation. How the Advent message reached Dundee is not now known. Several of the ladies were baptised on the day the company was organised, but who conducted the baptism is also forgotten. Amongst those first 8 there was Mrs Meek the mother of Mrs Stewart, and Mrs Barrie who was a real "mother in Israel" and a tower of strength to the Dundee Company. By 1922 the prospects were sufficiently encouraging for the church board to ask a certain "brother Elias" (who was probably the father of Pastor K A Elias, formerly president of the North British Conference) to rent for them the Baker's Hall in King's Road. And there the company continued to meet until the early 1930s.

In 1932 the tempo of affairs quickened considerably with the arrival of Pastor Tapping from Cambridge. The church changed its meeting place to the Forrester's Hall in Ward Road, but the services had to be held in the afternoon. Pastor Tapping pressed forward with great vigour the task of spreading the Advent message to the Dundee public. In those pioneering days difficulties such as poverty or lack of premises were brushed aside as trivial in comparison to the urgency of the message. He erected a tent in Cotton Road and held his meetings there until the autumn. Eventually a baptismal service was held in the public swimming pool. At around this time in the early 1930s Mrs Munro and her daughter Mrs Moffat became members of the church and our present member Miss Jessie Moffat represents the third generation of Adventists in Dundee. At that time a young schoolgirl, Nora Braniff, began attending Pastor Tapping's services. She continued her interest in the church throughout the 1930s and was eventually baptised in 1940. Nora Myles, as she later became, has served the church wonderfully well over the years as soloist, treasurer and in many other offices.

Pastor Tapping left Dundee for Dunfermline in 1934 and then the meeting place was moved back again to the King's Road Hall. There has been some debate in the denomination about the status of women in church leadership. But this was all settled long ago as far as we in Dundee are concerned because that same year, 1934, the conference appointed Miss Archibald, a Bible Worker from Glasgow, to be church leader. She was a real Christian Suffragette with firm views on Women's Rights. She took charge of the church organisation, preached at the services and chaired the business meetings. Her ministry was really enjoyed by the church, and for nearly three years she successfully and fruitfully led out.

Pastor McCrow took over in the late thirties and during his ministry Mrs Margaret McPherson, who was our member of longest standing (sadly deceased a few years ago) joined the church. The church was visited on the first of many occasions in 1934 by Dr Gertrude Brown, then living in Edinburgh. She spoke on "Health Principles" in a lecture enjoyed by all. She often visited Dundee in the l940s and 50s after the establishment of her medical institution in Crieff. A recurrent problem during these years was the tithing question. Only a few of the members seemed to be faithful in supporting the tithe fund, and this became the subject of numerous prayers and appeals. Whether this was connected or not with the visit of Mr Carey, the Conference treasurer from Watford, to inspect the church books I don't know, but this event evidently sent shivers of apprehension through the church officers. There is evident relief in the way in which the church clerk recorded the fact that the books were all found to be correct.

The years of the great depression and war were difficult ones for the church despite all the effort and campaigns of Pastors Johnston and Morrison. However, at this time the members found their first permanent place of worship. A dancing studio in the Nethergate was converted into a lovely little church thanks to the dexterity of the members, and Pastor Johnston and his wife. It was a sad day in 1947 when the notice to quit that building, because of demolition, was received. At this time the church witnessed quite a romantic interlude. A second lady had been appointed as church leader, on the retiral of Pastor Morrison. Miss Fretton was in total charge of the church until later in the year when Mr R. Musgrave arrived on the scene to take over. However, only a short while later Miss Fretton and Mr Musgrave were united in marriage. Within two years the Musgraves moved away and Victor Hall, fresh from college with his new bride, arrived as forerunner of a large campaign to be conducted by Pastor Kenneth Lacey. The church had been meeting in a rather miserable old converted shop in Dudhope Street. Pastor Lacey immediately started a building fund and, wonderful as it must seem to us, the building at 47 Arbroath Road was finished and dedicated only a year later total cost of £2500. Unfortunately it was never very satisfactory, like many constructions of the early post-war years, and trouble with creeping damp, leaking roof, and inadequate heating started almost immediately. Mr Gordon Christie was the first to be baptised in the new baptistry by Pastor Bainbridge.

Pastor Lacey's campaign was a wonderful success, right from the start. The membership grew enormously during the time that he was there. In the year 1951, immediately after this campaign, the Dundee company was raised to the full status of a church; Pastors W. W. Armstrong, J. H. Bayliss and K. Lacey officiating at the ceremony. A goodly number of the members came into the church during Lacey's ministry, and they formed the backbone of the church until well into the 1980s. In 1953 the lease on a house in Chalmers Street was bought thanks to the generosity of certain members and it became the home of a succession of ministers in the next few years. In 1955 Miss Christine Braniff and Mr P Lorek were married and still remain as long-serving members. The minister at the time, Pastor Dabson, was a tireless campaigner, holding no less than five evangelistic efforts in his four years at Dundee. He was ordained by Pastor W. W. Armstrong in 1955 in the only ordination service ever held in Dundee. The distinguished American historian of the SDA denomination L. E. Froom came and assisted on that occasion. The late 50s and early 60s was the stormiest period in the church's existence. The congregation had grown to many times its old size and there were some growing pains, a good deal of shaking down, and, sad to record, some shaking out. The church was guided during that difficult time by Pastors Lennox and McGougan who steered it safely through. In the time of Pastors Emm and Cuthell the building fund, which had all been spent during an emergency on gas and electricity bills, was restarted and began slowly to grow. The "dial-a-prayer" service was installed and ran very successfully for five or six years. Sometimes as many as 400 calls a day were received, but the rental on the telephone answering machines eventually increased to the point where the church could no longer afford to pay. Pastor Barker, the Australian evangelist, next took over as minister and held a campaign in the Caird Hall, when Mr and Mrs Knight and Miss Watson joined. During his time and that of Pastors Sinclair and Hodges, who each came for brief stays, the need to rehouse the church became very urgent, because notices of the termination of the lease on the Arbroath premises were being received.

In 1972 the church adopted the Stewardship plan, thanks to the guidance of Pastor Ginbey, and the financial situation improved almost immediately. It is really from then that the generosity of the members was harnessed in such a way that funds began to accumulate on a practicable scale. 1976 marked the start of a new era. In 56 years of the Dundee church's history 18 ministers or leaders had been appointed by the conference, and at least 23 evangelistic campaigns had been held in and around this city. Other church activities had been many and varied. Then a new church building was erected on Rennell road and furnished. It was designed by Mr R Davidson and built at a cost of about £35,000 by Forman construction. Part of the cost was defrayed from the proceeds of the sale of the house on Chalmers Street. The building was dedicated by Pastors E. H. Foster and K. A. Elias on Saturday 26th June 1976. We were guided through the difficult task of planning the new building, raising the funds, and co-ordinating the whole operation by Pastor Steven W Thompson and his wife, Kristin. Pastor Smart then took over the leadership of the church when Pastor Thompson was moved to Portsmouth. In the autumn an evangelistic campaign was held in the University buildings, led by the division evangelist Ken Wright. Even though his stay was short, after one year, seven new members were baptised into fellowship.

[Compiled from records in the church clerk's books and from personal memories of long serving lay members. J C Walton August 1977 (revised September 1999)].

Chronological List of Events

Date

Event [Visitors, VIPs etc.]

1843

James Begg, a Seventh-day Baptist sold Millerite literature in Glasgow.

1874

J. N. Andrews visited scattered Seventh-day Baptists in Scotland.

1886

S. H. Lane(?) and R. F. Andrews campaigned in Lochmaben and

Dumfriesshire.

1891

N. Z. Town and a band of canvassers worked in Glasgow.

1893

Hollingsworth and members from Ireland worked in Scotland. First Scottish

SDA company organised in Glasgow.

1901

H. E. Armstrong baptised 20 in Glasgow and organised first church there.

1902

Scottish Mission named and organised.

1917

Dundee company organised 29 September with 8 ladies including Mrs Barrie and Mrs Meek.

1919

North British Conference, including the Scottish Mission, organised with headquarters in Newcastle.

1922

Dundee church met in Bakers Hall, Kings Road with Br Elias.

1924

Five baptised in Dundee, including Mrs Moffat.

1920s

Tent meetings with Pastor Arthur Rodd.

1932

Dundee church meets in Forrester's Hall, Rattray St. Nora Braniff starts attending. Baptism in public swimming pool (Mrs Munro, Mrs Moffatt) 14 added to membership.

1932

Pastor George and Muriel Tapping leaders.

1933

First church social, 50 present.

1933

Tent meetings in Cotton Rd. - transferred to YMCA. Membership 31._[W.E. Read (BUC Pres.), Pastor Murdoch]

1934

Miss Archibald leader. Pastor Tapping to Dunfirmline. First organ purchased. Meeting in Baker's Hall again. [Gertrude Brown (Edinburgh), Pastors Murdoch, Goodall, Belton]

1935

Church books inspected by BUC treasurer Mr Carey. [Dorland, Wilmshurst]

1936

Pastor McCrow leader; campaign in Marryat Hall. [Pas. Morrison (Glasgow)]

1937

[Pas. Keough (Newbold)]

1938

Henry and Elise Johnson leader. Meeting in Dancing Studio, Nethergate. [Dorland, Emmerson, McMillan]

1939

Membership 22.

1940

Campaign in YMCA, Nora Braniff baptised. [Knudsen (Denmark)]

1941

Johnson moved to Aberdeen. Pastor David and Davina Morrison leaders. [W. L. Emmerson, W. J. Bartlett (NED), W. G. Murdoch]

1942

Campaign in YMCA, Organ gifted by Sister Ramsay. [J. Craven (Press), J. Harker, Meredith (BUC)]

1943

Series in Queen's theatre. [Miss Archbald visited. A. H. Watson]

1946

Madgwick becomes Scot. Mission Super. Pastor Morrison retires.

1947

Miss Fretton in charge. Musgrave in charge; marries Fretton. Church meets in converted shop Dudhope street. Campaign in Broughty Ferry. Bayliss becomes Scot. Superintendent. [E. L. Minchin]

1948

Day of fellowship in Glasgow.

1949

Victor. Hall takes over. Ken Lacey campaign preparations.

1950

Lacey campaign in Caird Hall, with Miss Cowan, Denys and Jean Baildam. Church building fund started. 32 Baptised.

1951

Dundee Company inaugurated as a Church by W. W. Armstrong, J. H Bayliss and K. Lacey. Bainbridge becomes minister. Church built on Arbroath Road at cost of £2500. [Warland, Mahon, Kinman, Bonnie, R. A. Vine.]

1952

[E. B. Rudge (BUC)]

1953

53 Chalmers St. bought as minister's house (£2000). Pastor Dabson became Minister. Campaign. Membership 52._[Gertrude Brown (Crieff)]

1954

Br. Smith assistant minister. Campaign in Gaumont theatre. [E. R. Warland]

1955

Christine Braniff and P. Lorek married. Dabson ordained by W. W. Armstrong and L. E. Froom, [L. E. Froom, B. Kinman]

1956

Campaign in Odeon cinema. Baptism. Another campaign. Membership reaches 76. [A. F. Tarr, C. D. Watson, Dr Hyde, Dr Richardson, Both Dr Browns]

1957

Another Dabson campaign. He leaves. Pastor W Lennox takes over. [C. D. Watson, ER Warland].

1959

Campaign in Masonic Hall. Youth Hall erected. [JA McMillan]

1960

W Lennox leaves. SH Parkin takes over. Campaign in Caird Hall. [W. J. Newman]

1961

Membership 57. Parkin leaves and I. McGougan takes over. [JA McMillan, Newman]

1962

McGougan campaign Visit of Pastor Watts (Vice Pres. GC.). Membership 56. [Miss Aikenhead, R. Graham, V. Cooper, K. Lacey.]

1963

Pastor G. Emm takes over. Campaign in Seagate Hall.

1964

Dial-A-Prayer machines installed. JM. Cuthell becomes minister. Campaign in YMCA.

1967

L. Barker becomes minister. Arbroath church lease to expire.

1968

Barker campaign in Caird Hall. Campaign in Perth.

1969

Barker to Weston Super Mare. D. Sinclair minister.

1971

A. Hodges becomes minister.

1972

Stewardship plan adopted. S. Thompson becomes minister. 15 Chalmers Street sold. New church built at Rennell Road (£35000). Dedicated by E. H. Foster, K. A. Elias.

Last updated 25 June 2001

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