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Invergordon Church of Scotland...  History

 

Invergordon Parish Church is a congregation of the Church of Scotland

 

Until 1843 the people of Invergordon worshipped in the Parish Church, a magnificent sandstone church which still stands in Rosskeen graveyard.  That was the year of the 'Disruption', when the majority of Highland ministers and their congregations left the Established Church and formed the new Free Church.  The people of the Parish of Rosskeen (which included Invergordon and part of Alness) 'came out' with their minister, the Rev. David Carment, and built a church at Achnagarron, on the site of the present Free Church.  This was not a peaceful split - the local newspaper reported that in an attempt to stop a new minister being inducted into the Established Church a mob attacked the Presbytery who 'were assaulted by a lawless mob armed with sticks, reaping hooks and stones'!   Police from Elgin and Inverness had to be brought in, along with Irish Fusiliers.

As time went on, the Invergordon people felt the journey to Achnagarron was too long, and petitioned the Church to have a building of their own.  Initially this was intended to be linked to the Achnagarron Congregation, under the same minister.  Plans were presented by the architects Ross and Joass of Inverness, based on plans commissioned by the Free Church from a Liverpool architect., for a building in the early Gothic style.  Several similar churches were built, including the Buccleuch and Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh.

Two sites were considered - the 'hill at the East end of the town' or 'Colin Fraser's stackyard, which was obviously the preferred option.  The original plan was for three galleries, but as an economy these were omitted.  It was also decided to omit the spire, but Macleod of Cadboll, who had promised £60 of a donation, said he would reduce this by £10 if there were no spire.  This sum was obviously significant and the 141 foot spire, which is such a feature of the building, was thankfully retained.  The lowest estimate for the stonework was £950 and for the joinery £820.  The stone came from Findon Quarry (on the other side of the Cromarty Firth bridge).

The congregation petitioned the Church authorities for permission to call a minister of their own instead of being linked to Rosskeen, and this was granted by the Free Church General Assembly.  Significant donations had already been pledged by the local people, but a wider appeal was made to natives of the town living elsewhere and to firms from the South who traded in Invergordon.

The church was finally opened on Wednesday 23 October 1861 at a total cost of £2500.  Rent was charged for the right to occupy a pew.  The first minister was the Rev. Colin Sinclair.  He was an uncle of Provost Macdonald of 'Seaview'.  Communion dates were set for the third Sunday in June and the first Sunday in November - dates which still apply.  Communion services attracted large crowds from all over the area.  English services were held in the Church and Gaelic in the Town Park, where the minister preached from a small wooden shelter.  On ordinary Sundays the morning service was in Gaelic, with afternoon and evening services in English.  In 1911 the Gaelic service was changed to the afternoon and in 1917 was given up altogether.

In 1862 money was subscribed to pay for a clock and bell in the spire.  There was no organ in the church, and the singing was led by a precentor.  It is thought that heating was initially provided by oil stoves.  Acoustics were not considered ideal, so a canopy was constructed over the pulpit.  In 1868 one gallery, facing the pulpit, was added.

The manse was constructed in 1877, and the hall added in 1895, most of the funding for this coming from an anonymous donor- later revealed as Mr. David Denoon of Rosskeen Free Church and a local merchant.

From 1900 to 1905 the Rev. Colin Sinclair was in semi retirement, so the Rev. Andrew Douglas came as colleague and successor.  Colin Sinclair died in 1905.

In 1900 the congregation, unlike its sister church at Rosskeen, joined the new United Free Church.

The outbreak of the First World War brought great change, with the town's population growing to around 20,000 due to its use as a Naval Base.  The church was regularly crowded.  The hall was put to many uses, including being a Recreation Room for Service men, an Isolation Hospital and even, for a year, a home for a family whose house had burned down.  In February 1916 a special communion service was held for soldiers about to leave for France.  There were many sad losses, including the elder son of the Rev. Andrew Douglas, who was killed in the last week of fighting.

In November 1919 Mr. Douglas left Invergordon for Glasgow. He was succeeded by the Rev. Alasdair Macleod, who remained in the charge until 1927.

In the following year the Rev. Duncan Fraser was called to Invergordon, where he remained for 40 years. 500 members and adherents signed the call, and his was the first ordination in the Church.  He married 'HL' Macdonald of Seaview, a great niece of the Rev. Colin Sinclair.  Dr. Fraser was a great scholar, and researched the history of the Church, published as 'Invergordon - a Highland Congregation.'  Much of the information in this entry comes from Dr. Fraser's work.

In 1929, along with most United Free Congregations, Invergordon Church joined with the Church of Scotland, coming full circle from the Disruption of 1843.

The Second World War brought further changes, with ladies running a mobile canteen and sending parcels to the troops.  The hall was taken over by military Authorities.  Attendances increased dramatically.

In 1961 Centenary Services were held, conducted by the Moderator, the Rt. Rev. Dr. A. C. Craig.  The service opened with the singing of the 'Old Hundredth', as had been sung on the day of the opening.  Dr. Craig said that uncounted thousands of men of the Royal Navy had worshipped, sung, listened and prayed so that the influence of this place had travelled round the world.  He also said that the Invergordon Congregation could look back with gratitude on their forefathers who in their faith had resolved to build a church at Invergordon - one which would be architecturally worthy of its high purpose.

In 1965 Doctor Fraser served as Moderator of the Church of Scotland.  He retired in 1967.

The Rev Robert Sloan followed Dr. Fraser as minister, and it was due to his enthusiasm that it was decided to renovate the building in 1974.  New pews, lighting, carpeting and heating were installed, and the whole church painted.  Mr. Sloan left Invergordon in 1978 for Perth, and then Ballater and Crathie.

The Rev. Graeme Foster followed Mr Sloan as minister.  He served in Invergordon until 1986 when he moved to the Steeple Church in Dundee.  His successor was the Rev. David Scott.  Mr Scott also moved to a church in Dundee - Logie & St. John's (Cross) - in 1999.

Mr Scott was succeeded by our present minister, the Rev. Kenneth ('KD') MacLeod. 

 

Celebrating more than 150 years of Christian Witness in Invergordon