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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: Church With a Bold Policy

Looking Back

Friday July 22

Looking Back: Church With A Bold Policy

Published in July 1956, the story of how a church extension charge was helping out members of the community who got into money trouble.

A church with a bold policy is St. Mark’s, Drumchapel, Glasgow. In a church extension charge you have no tradition or congregational history to help you. Often you have no congregation. You have to work out your own salvation, often in fear and trembling. If these feelings are present at St. Mark’s they are not noticeable to the visitor.

THE people of St. Mark’s plunged into controversy right away. They started paying the rents and rates of families faced with warrant sales and eviction! Members paid half-a-crown a head, and so far the church has paid £170 in rent arrears. Neighbouring congregations gave a hand and brought the figure up to £240.

Not all of the families so helped are church members. Only four have so far “let the church down.” They got into serious arrears for a second time. The church doesn’t help after a second lapse.

Not only that. The church has provided a stimulus for local tenants’ associations who’ve taken up the question of weekly payments of rent as opposed to the present monthly system.

When the Rev. R. J. Henderson started on his initial footslogging round the homes of his new parish over a year ago his first target was the men. He got 110 to his first meetings in various homes.

Then it was the women, 125 of them. At the end of six weeks 200 folk attended his first service. There is no church or hall yet – they met in a school.

Soon there was a Men’s Club and a Woman’s Guild in action; and “action” was the word. They started visiting some of the 12,000 neighbours in the parish. Socials were organised. The women have a Good Neighbours’ scheme in operation.

In a year there have been 171 baptisms, including 29 adult baptisms. The church insists that husbands are present when their children are christened.

Thriving youth organisations are bursting at the seams – youth fellowship is attracting young people from all classes – including the Teddy Boys.

The emphasis on the place of men in the work of the church meets you everywhere in St. Mark’s. During the minister’s month’s holiday in July the services will be taken by elders and members of the Board.

This is the “new Church of Scotland” referred to in the General Assembly. This is a new pattern of congregation designed for new times.


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