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Chapter Four

Chapter 4

The Great War


The new minister approached his task with courage and resolution and, as a beginning, the Sunday School was reorganised and a Junior Bible Class was formed for young people between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. Due to the lack of other suitable accommodation, it was arranged to hold this class in the church and this is the first indication in the records of the need for a further hall extension although it was to be a quarter of a century before this extension materialised.

A break with tradition was made about this time when, at a Session Meeting held on 8th May 1906, it was decided that the “present circumstances do not warrant a resumption of the mission as it had previously existed”. The Reverend J. Frew Brown, the last missionary, had resigned shortly before Mr Hogarth’s departure and the mission had remained in abeyance during the vacancy. However, shortly after Mr Young had taken over the charge, the question of holding kitchen meetings was again revived and a committee was appointed to investigate the possibilities of arranging such meetings. As before, there is no record of whether or not these meetings were ever started.

Unfortunately there is no record either of the number of communicants attending Mr Young’s first Communion in March 1906, but a minute of 8th June records that “there were 268 communicants present at his second Communion in June”. The first ordination of elders in the new ministry took place on 18th November 1906.

In February 1907 two Trinity elders were appointed to assist the Reverend John Rutherford BD in his Communion at Moorpark, where he had been appointed first minister of the congregation formed by the Presbytery out of the mission which had formerly been carried on by Trinity Church.

At this time, there is evidence of activity among the young people apart from their religious training. A minute records “the formation of an elocution class for the young lads and, no doubt, the young lasses under the instruction of Mr Dan Russell, who was an accomplished exponent of that art and also a keen worker in the church generally”.

Another outstanding feature was a children’s mission organised by the minister and conducted by Mr Pratt. His talks to the young people in the church on Sunday mornings held them spellbound. He told familiar Bible stories and illustrated them with lantern slides which he had painted himself.

An interesting item from the Session Minutes of the 6th March 1908 is that the Session delayed granting permission to the Sunday School Association to mark the children’s attendance at church. At the same meeting they agreed to allow the Association to become affiliated with the Scottish National Sunday School Union.

Discussion had been going on for some time about holding two Communion Services each Communion Sunday but the matter did not seem to get beyond the talking stage at this time.

From the beginning of his ministry, Mr Young’s mind had been set on liquidating the debt which still hung over the church as a result of the extension in 1904 and arrangements were now made to hold a bazaar to raise funds.

The bazaar, or as the records of the time called it, “The Grand Jubilee Bazaar,” took place in the George A. Clark Town Hall, Paisley on the 14th, 15th and 16th December 1911 and was “to the delight of all, a magnificent success”. The following extract from the 1911 Annual Report shows evidence of the spirit of co-operation that existed between the churches: “For the bazaar’s success we are indebted to many friends far and near. Special mention, however, may be made of the separate efforts of the Parish Church, of the North U.F. Church and of many churches in the Paisley Presbytery who, by their representatives, provided a stall at the bazaar and conducted for the bazaar committee the refreshment stall. We feel, likewise, we are under a deep debt of gratitude for the splendid support accorded us by the people of Renfrew, Paisley and District.”

A Jubilee Bazaar in 1911! Yes, the jubilee was celebrated on the fiftieth anniversary of the first meeting in the Burgh School on April 21st 1861, whereas the centenary was celebrated on the hundredth anniversary of the preaching station being raised to the status of congregation in March 1862.

As a result of the bazaar, sufficient funds were available to wipe out the church’s debt and this included over £700 towards the cost of the recent church extension and a deficit of over £114 in the ordinary congregational fund. In addition, a surplus still remained part of which was used to carry out urgent renovation work at the church, the hall and the manse. Of the £400 spent, a large part was used to eradicate the dry rot found in the floor of the manse. While the work was being carried out, the minister and his family had to vacate the manse.

The managers in their report for 1912 were able to write: “It is the pleasant duty of the managers, in presenting their report and abstract of accounts for the year 1912, to record a substantial balance in the funds of the congregation. Thus far we have realised in our Jubilee Year the ideal of being free from debt”. The year 1911 was perhaps the peak year of Mr Young’s ministry, for he had succeeded in wiping out the debt which had hung over the church during his first five years in Trinity.

It is interesting to note Mr Young’s words at the end of that year: “The year closes one volume of Trinity Church History. As we enter upon 1912, may we all, with the New Year, realise that with it we are beginning a new book and have opportunity for a fresh start. Let us begin with personal consecration afresh to God, then the desired results will come naturally. Spiritual life is a spring and must rise to the surface and there it is seen.” The words of the Jubilee history look forward too with optimism: “We have every cause, looking at the past, to be courageous now and we have every hope that if the Church keeps ever true to the evangel of Jesus Christ, she will be a power of good in the future as she has been in the past.”

The following few notes, picked more or less at random from the records for the period 1910 – 1914, give a hint of the atmosphere within the church while the world headed into turmoil.

On Sunday mornings at 11:05, a prayer meeting was held in the vestry. This had previously been for the elders, but it was now opened to everyone.

It had been tradition that the choir master and the church officer were elected annually at the Congregational Business Meeting but, at the ABM dated 27th January 1910, Mr Ernest Bedgood gave notice “that at the next ABM he would move that the church officer and the choir master be hereafter considered permanent officials in this church”. At the next Annual Business Meeting, Mr Bedgood explained his motion by saying that the “holding of these appointments would still be subject to the good conduct and efficiency of the two officials but, with that proviso, they would not be subject to re-election at each annual meeting”. Strange as it may seem, the motion was only carried by the casting vote of the chairman.

At a Session Meeting held on 12th September 1911, it was agreed to grant the Sunday School Association the use of the church to accommodate the infant department and, at the same meeting, the minister reported that the Sunday School Association was now responsible for the Band of Hope.

A Session minute of September 1912 records the last reference to Trinity’s connection with the Moorpark Mission, when the Session agreed unanimously to pay the sum of 18/- to the Presbytery of Paisley which was the congregation’s share of the debt on Moorpark U.F. Church Hall.

At the Annual Meeting of the congregation held on 30th January 1913, an appeal was made for “more systematic giving and a closer attendance to all church ordinances” and at a Session Meeting held on 10th February 1914, it was agreed to ask the managers to meet with the elders at an early date to consider how best to interest the congregation in the financial affairs of the church.

Although few people realised it at the time, an era was drawing to a close. The war, which broke out in 1914, was to disrupt the life of the community for the next four years. It brought death to millions of men, many of them young men in their prime. A glance at the memorial in the church vestibule is a reminder of the extent to which the homes of Trinity’s congregation were affected. Nevertheless few people realised at the time that a way of life had gone and that every aspect of life would be affected: even people’s attitude to the Church and to religion itself would be changed but these were problems that later congregations were to wrestle with.

Meantime the church had to be kept going and, in spite of failing health, Mr Young continued to work hard.

The minister’s health continued to deteriorate and on the 23rd April 1917 the Session were dismayed, although not altogether surprised, when Mr Young intimated that owing to continued ill-health it would be impossible for him to continue his ministerial duties. An appeal was made to the Presbytery for four months’ leave of absence, but it was January of the following year before he again appeared at a Session Meeting. Any improvement in Mr Young’s health was only temporary and for the next few months he was able to take only one Sunday service. When the Session was summoned on 4th October 1918, it was to hear of his sudden death. It was ironic that the end of the fighting in Europe for which he had prayed so fervently came a short five weeks after his death.

Because Mr Young died while he was still in the charge, a certain amount of time had to elapse before any move could be made towards finding a successor but, in time, the first steps were taken to fill the vacant charge. The Reverend W. Risk Thomson was appointed Interim Moderator, a vacancy committee was set up and, after hearing candidates, a short leet of five was drawn up. In due course the ministers came to Renfrew and preached in Trinity Church. After this, there were two nominations to fill the vacancy – the Reverend W.G. Kirk of Armadale and the Reverend Robert B. Hastie MA of Cockenzie – and at a Congregational Meeting held on 14th February 1919 a considerable majority voted for Mr Hastie and, on the motion of Mr Kirk’s proposer, it was agreed that a unanimous call be sent to Mr Hastie.

The Reverend Robert B. Hastie MA was inducted into the charge on 8th May 1919 and the Preses handed Mr Hastie a cheque for his first quarter’s salary in the traditional manner and so a new ministry had begun. During the vacancy about £95 had been spent on painting and redecorating the manse in preparation for the new occupants.

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