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Friday June 16 2017

Looking Back: A Red-Letter Day

An account of the laying of the foundation stone of St Andrew's Scots Memorial Church, Jerusalem, from June 1927.


THE 7th May 1927 may well be regarded as a Red-letter Day in the Calendar of the Scottish Church. For the first time in history she was standing and worshipping on her own ground in the Holy City. Hitherto she has been indebted for hospitality to the kindness of the Anglican and Lutheran Churches, to the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A., and to the Franciscans and Benedictines. A new era has been ushered in.

The congregation was a noteworthy one. It included Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs of the Greek, Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic Churches’ the Anglican Bishop; and a great company of British residents from all parts of Palestine. They were met together to witness the laying of the foundation stone of the Scottish Churches’ Memorial by that great soldier, Field-Marshal the Viscount Allenby.

In the brilliant sunshine of early summer the stone was laid by the side of the road to Bethlehem and in sight of Mount Zion, the Mount of Olives, and the mountains of Moab. There on a commanding site the St. Andrew’s Church and Hospice will stand, a worthy monument of Scottish faith and sacrifice. Of such a Memorial in such sacred surroundings it may be said with much truth: “Many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them.”

Let it be recorded here that the religious service was conducted by the Rev. Dr. W. M. Christie of Tiberias, assisted by the Rev. Principal Semple of Safed, the Rev. R. J. H. MacGowan of Sydney, N.S.W., and Mr. A. R. Forrest of Jaffa; also that Mr. S. G. Kermack, Convener; Dr. J. A. Henderson, Vice-Convener; and Dr. J. MacQueen and Mr. J. M. Turnbull, Hon. Secretaries of the Local Committee, took part in the proceedings.

Lord Allenby, after spreading the mortar with a silver trowel, guided the stone into position and declared it well and truly laid. Then addressing the assemblage, he expressed his warm approval of the form of the Memorial – a church and hospice, and eulogised the valour of the famous 52nd Lowland Scottish Division which broke through the Turkish lines at Gaza, captured the hills round about Jerusalem, and dominated the situation. They fought, he declared, as few men had ever fought before.


St Andrew's Scots Memorial Church

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