Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: Scots Kirk, Bombay

Looking Back

Image: archives-pic_cropped.jpg

Friday August 24 2018

Looking Back: The Scots Kirk, Bombay

Published in August 1938 as the two Scottish churches in what was then Bombay were united.


THOSE who know Bombay may stare at this heading uncomprehendingly. “St. Andrew’s we know,” they may say, “and St. Columba’s, but what is the Scots Kirk?” The answer is that it is the new congregation that has been formed out of the recent union of the two historic communions of St. Andrew’s and St. Columba’s.

Among the many changes that are taking place in India to-day, this one is of the happiest augury. It is really a reunion, for it marks the end of a division that has lasted almost a hundred years. The Disruption of 1843 disrupted the Church of Scotland in Bombay as well as at home, so that it was divided into the two congregations kept apart by the same strong convictions as kept the two sides of the Church apart in Scotland. But the same reconciling influences that made for the healing of the breach at home were at work in the great Indian city, and now we are able to report the final consummation of their wedding.

Full credit for the harmony that has characterised the negotiations for union must be allowed to all who participated in them, but specially to the ministers concerned – the Rev. W. E. Wilkie Brown, Rev. L. MacEdward, and Rev. J. Yule Rennie. On the retirement of Mr. Wilkie Brown, the minister of St. Columba’s, the key position was left in the charge of Mr. Yule Rennie. What followed was a marked tribute to him. Unanimously and unhesitatingly, the whole Presbyterian Scottish community designated him as the minister under whom they were prepared confidently and unreservedly to unite in one Christian fellowship. So the Scots Kirk, Bombay, was formed and Mr. Yule Rennie inducted to the united charge on 12th June.

Mr Yule Rennie is a chaplain of the Indian Ecclesiastical Establishment. Wherever he has served he has won golden opinions. His ministry in Karachi was specially memorable; and when, encouraged by the Viceroy and other leading personalities in India, the Colonial Mission made the experiment of forming a cold-weather congregation in Delhi, much of the success of the experiment was due to Mr. Yule Rennie, who was chosen to conduct it.

The Scots Kirk, Bombay, is therefore launched on its career with a tried and trusted minister in charge, and the enthusiasm of its beginnings augurs well for the future in store for it.

The Scots Church in what is now Mumbai is now part of the Church of North India, formed in 1970 from the union of Anglican, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Baptist, Methodist and other denominations. In 2015, the Scots Church celebrated its bicentenary.

The Rev John Yule Rennie was appointed superintendent of St Andrew’s Colonial Homes in Kalimpong in 1942, before returning to Scotland, serving as minister at Fowlis Wester Church in the then Presbytery of Auchterarder from 1945-1953.

Previous: Scottish Navvy Mission

Looking Back Menu