Renfrew Trinity Church

Home » Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

Chapter 10

The Centenary


When the Reverend Sidney Adamson MA BD CF left Trinity to go to the High Kirk of Rothesay, the Presbytery appointed the Reverend A.G. Fortune MA STM of St George’s East Church, Paisley as Interim Moderator for a second time and the Reverend R. W. Stewart BD, formerly of Killermont, as locum tenens. The new minister’s stipend was fixed at £700 per annum.

There was a feeling of excitement and anticipation in the congregation as the vacancy committee began its work. The Reverend William Sinclair Armstrong BD from Rothes, Moray was selected to preach as sole nominee on Sunday 5th December 1954 and on Monday 13th December he was unanimously elected. The call was signed by 541 members and he was inducted on Wednesday 9th February 1955 by the Reverend John MacKinnon MA, Moderator of the Paisley Presbytery, assisted by the Reverend James Johnstone of Linwood and the Reverend J.G. Haldane MA, Canal Street Church, Paisley who preached and gave the charges. On the following Sunday, Mr Armstrong was introduced to the congregation by the Professor William S.Tindal OBE DD of Edinburgh University.

It immediately became obvious that Mr Armstrong was very interested in the youth of the congregation. Straight away he began to re-organise the Sunday School. Other changes recorded in the Session Minutes include the extension of the Junior Bible Class, under Mr William Milliken, to include the 14 – 17 age group and the discontinuation of the Senior Bible Class. This was to be replaced by a Youth Fellowship, with the minister in charge, to cater for young people between the ages of 17 and 30.

Much thought was given to the Assembly report “Godly Upbringing” and certain changes to the Youth Training Scheme were implemented in November 1960. First of all the monitors’ class was to be discontinued with those involved moving to the Bible Class which would now include 13 year olds. This Bible Class, with the minister in charge, would be divided into sections each catering for a different age group. At the same time it was agreed that, for an experimental period, the Sunday School should meet at 12.30 p.m. instead of 2.30 p.m. Also at this time a Young Worshippers’ League was established to encourage church attendance. Cards were stamped at the church door and, at the end of the year, prizes were awarded to those whose attendance had been good.

At a Congregational Meeting held on Monday 17th March 1958 it had been decided, on the recommendation of the Kirk Session, that the upkeep of the Sunday School should be paid for out of the congregational account instead of from the children’s offerings. This is an indication of how important the work of the Sunday School was considered to be.

A new housing scheme had been built on the land lying between Inchinnan Road, the River Cart and Babcock & Wilcox Ltd. This area, known as Kirklandneuk, was in Trinity’s parish and the church worked closely with the Town Council who provided the church with the names of each set of tenants as soon as the houses were allocated. As they moved in, the families were welcomed by a letter from the Session and this was followed by a visit from two elders bringing the good wishes of the congregation. Because of the distance between Kirklandneuk and the church and the dangers involved in crossing two busy roads, the possibility of starting a Sunday School at Kirklandneuk was soon raised by the Session. Application was made to use the new primary school on a Sunday afternoon. Permission was granted and the new Sunday School was opened at Kirklandneuk with 120 children and 20 teachers and so, after about seventy years, Trinity had established another mission.

In the summer of 1956, the Reverend William Barclay BD received an honorary degree – Doctor of Divinity – from Edinburgh University and the congregation, in recognition of the honour bestowed on their former minister, presented him with the appropriate academic hood and a wallet of notes. Suitable gifts were presented to Mrs Barclay on the same occasion. This occasion was overshadowed when it became known on Sunday 12th August that Dr and Mrs Barclay’s daughter, Barbara had been drowned in a boating accident in Ireland.

The name of Mr Alexander Mitchell has appeared before in this history and now appears for the last time because, at the Session Meeting on Wednesday 1st August 1956, the minister announced that Mr Mitchell had passed away after having served for 53 years as an elder as well as singing in the church choir, conducting the Junior Choir and teaching in the Sunday School.

A joint committee with representatives from the Church of Scotland and the Church of England had been meeting for some time to discuss a closer liaison between the two and a joint report, commonly known as the “Bishop’s Report”, was sent down by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1957 for consideration by Kirk Sessions and congregations. When the matter came before the General Assembly in 1959, however, the commissioners decided that a union on the basis of that report was unacceptable.

A local committee set up in September 1956 as part of the “Tell Scotland” campaign proposed that a house-to-house visitation of the whole burgh should be carried out from 6th to 20th October 1957. All the churches accepted this proposal and, as part of the scheme, a series of lectures organised by the Presbytery and entitled “The Bible Today” was given in Paisley. This was followed in 1957 by an announcement that training for personnel taking part in the visitation would take the form of four lectures delivered by the Reverend Donald F. MacDonald MA of Lylesland, Paisley on four successive Fridays in September prior to the visitation. Trinity Church halls were established as the headquarters of the venture and each evening, during these two weeks, visitors went out and visited every home in the burgh. It was very difficult to assess the true value of such an effort but the movement seemed to create a greater interest in the church. There can be no doubt, however, about the effect on those involved in the outreach: the social contact with fellow workers, the meeting with the people as they went from door to door and the joint act of worship at the close of each day were all experiences that left their mark. The whole campaign was followed up by a series of meetings conducted in Trinity Church hall by the Dr William Barclay.

An important event celebrated in 1960 was the four hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. On the 4th October a special joint service was held in Renfrew Old Parish Church. All the Church of Scotland ministers took part and the Reverend McWilliams MA STM of Wellington Church, Glasgow preached the sermon.

In September 1961, the Kirk Session agreed to the formation of a Mothers’ Fellowship under the presidency of Mrs W S Armstrong. This organisation flourished and in its first year had over forty members.

The celebration of the centenary of Trinity Church had been discussed as early as December 1956 when representatives of the Kirk Session and the Managers’ Court met. This was followed by a joint meeting of all the office bearers and, finally, by a special meeting of the congregation on Monday 16th May 1960 when it was decided to mark the event by the cleaning and the redecoration of the church and, in addition, by the erection of a brass plaque bearing the names of all the ministers to date. It was also decided to present the minister with new robes.

The final paragraph in this part of the history is a quotation from a booklet published for the centenary:

“To the countless men and women of the past we owe much: to the men and women of the present we owe much: to the men and women of the future we owe much and only by prayer, worship and obeying the lead of the Spirit can we fulfil that debt. God has richly blessed us in the past. May that blessing be upon us for the present and the future that His name may be glorified and His truth manifested.”

Back to Chapter 9  or  Continue to Chapter 11

%d bloggers like this: