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Friday February 22 2019

Looking Back: Charteris Memorial

A report from February 1909 on moves to raise a memorial church to the visionary Professor Archibald Charteris


AT a largely attended meeting held recently, it was agreed that some suitable Memorial should be erected to perpetuate the memory of Dr. Charteris, and that there could be no more fitting commemoration of him than the building of a Charteris Memorial Church for St. Ninian’s Mission, Pleasance, Edinburgh. That district was intimately associated with the last service which Dr. Charteris was privileged to render; and the erection of a church there was an object on which his heart was set. In the completion of the Deaconess House, the Deaconess Hospital, and the St. Ninian’s Mission Halls he saw the fruits of his labours, and he had hoped to see the day when alongside of these three would be placed a suitable church for the congregation that is being gathered (already numbering 300 communicants). But the full completion of his design he was not permitted to see. One cannot, however, think of anything that would have afforded him greater gratification, had he still been with us, than to know that the work which he himself planned and initiated had been crowned.

A church is urgently and immediately required for the district. St. Ninian’s which is one of the poorest quarters of Edinburgh, is an outlying portion of the great parish of St. Cuthbert’s, and has a population of over 7000 souls.

There are, however, other considerations which make a church here specially fitting as a Memorial of Dr. Charteris. When, under his guidance, the Church of Scotland revived the ancient Scriptural Office of the Deaconess, and instituted the Deaconess House as a centre of missionary training, this district was assigned as a field for practical Mission-work connected with it. Mission workers receive here instructions and practical experience fitting them for work both at home and abroad.

It is not proposed that the Church of St. Ninian’s shall be endowed or become a quoad sacra Parish Church, but that it shall remain an integral part of the Church’s equipment for the training of those giving themselves to her service. Already a Memorial of Dr. Charteris has been provided in the Foreign Mission-field in the Charteris Hospital at Kalimpong. By the building of the proposed church there will be provided in this central spot of the Home Mission-field a Memorial fittingly commemorating one to whom both Home and Foreign Missions were dear, who led the way in organising the Womanhood of the Church for missionary service, and with whose name the revival of the Diaconate and the Ministry of Woman will always be associated.

To acquire the site and provide a suitable church a sum of £7000 will be required. It is a large sum, but it is felt that for an object so necessary and fitting, it is not too much to ask.

A committee has, therefore, been appointed to take steps for giving effect to the proposal – Sir Charles Dalrymple, the Master of Polwarth, and the Rev. Dr. William Robertson being appointed Conveners. That Committee now appeals to the many friends and admirers of Dr. Charteris to join in the proposed effort, and generously to help it as they may be able.

The Charteris Memorial Church opened in 1912. In 1969 it was united with Buccleuch and Nicolson Street Churches and became Kirk O'Field Parish Church. Kirk O'Field united with Greyfriars Kirk in 2013.

The building now officially bears Charteris' name again, as part of the Greyfriars Charteris Centre, along with the former St Ninian's Mission.

The Deaconness Hospital, next door to the Mission, now provides accommodation for students at the University of Edinburgh.


Looking Back: Tributes paid to Charteris after his death in April 1908

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