Foreword by the minister in 1979
At this notable milestone in the history of St David's, the situation facing the congregation is very different to that of 1929!
Then it was the building of new fabric (the halls cost £6,500 and 10 years later the church itself cost £8,767). Now it is the upkeep! Several years ago we embarked on a co-ordinated fabric plan which has involved the change of manse, upgrading of the small hall and kitchen, repair of the board room roof area, and this year (at an estimated cost of £12,000) major repairs to the church roof.
The community has aged too, and now has a high proportion of elderly folk.
I find it very meaningful to share communion in the homes of many housebound people. It is also a great encouragement to see many committed Christians in the youth fellowship, who make up a high proportion of the summer fellowship and evening service.
In the midst of the changes "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever." This is the theme of anniversary year, the basis of the church, the reason for its existence, by adhering to which - or not - the congregation stands - or falls.
As we prepare to enter the 80's, we face the challenge of presenting Christ to this fast-changing world -
- by living consistent Christ-filled lives which attract others to Jesus;
- by practical caring for our friends and neighbours, especially those who are in hospital or housebound;
- by encouraging young people through our example and answering their questions;
- by the faithful attendance of all Christians who are fit, at worship every Sunday and a dependence on God through personal and shared prayer;
- by having a real vision of God's plan for the world, so that we are keen to encourage our fellow Christians, and are desperately concerned lest folk whom we know spend a Christ-less eternity.
The cross is the symbol of the triumph of God over evil and death. St. David's is known in Knightswood as the church with the cross - may each of us be known as people of the cross.
May God bless you and your homes.
ALEX. M. GUNN
The late Rev. W.L. FORDYCE, M.A.
(First Minister of St. David's, Knightswood, 1929-1939)
The name of the Rev. W. L. Fordyce will always be associated with the pioneering work, faithfully undertaken, for the purpose of creating and establishing the Congregation of St. David's Knightswood. Before accepting a call to Knightswood he had served in three charges: Western Australia, Bell Street, Dundee and Copland Road, Glasgow. He therefore came to his charge in Knightswood rich in experience for the great task of building up an entirely new congregation in a new housing area. On the 30th November, 1929, the Presbytery of Glasgow released him from his charge at Copland Road and immediately he took up his duties in Knightswood, where he laboured for nine years.
During that period he witnessed the steady growth and consolidation of the new congregation, both in numbers and influence. At the close of his ministry in Knightswood, the membership was about one thousand. The many fine qualities of Mr. Fordyce as a minister and pastor contributed to this fine achievement. As a pastor he always showed a deep interest in the welfare of the families under his care. In building up a new congregation this aspect of the work was very important and much of the success gained was due to it. He was ever ready to give sympathy and advice and his kindly heart went out to all who were in trouble of any kind. Being himself of a friendly nature no one hesitated to approach him for help or guidance.
As a preacher of the Word he was ever faithful, and in consequence many were led into a deeper spiritual experience. Many thank God for the ministry of Mr. Fordyce in Knightswood.
The Rev. JOHN WARNOCK, B.D.
(Second Minister, 1939-1946)
It gives me peculiar pleasure to send greetings, congratulations and good wishes to St. David's, Knightswood, on the very special occasion of the celebration of the congregation's Jubilee and also on the fortieth anniversary of the dedication of the Church building. I entered the Divinity Faculty at Glasgow University in October 1929 at the time of the Union of the two great branches of the Church of Scotland, so the story of St. David's and my own career roughly coincide.
My personal memories of the congregation do not go back to the beginning but, when I came to St. David's ten years later, the dynamic spirit and keen enthusiasm of those early days were still very much alive and most of the "founder members" were leading workers in the Church and its many thriving organisations. My wife and I were warmly welcomed by the large, united and vibrant congregation and we were soon immersed in its manifold activities. The new Church, after several postponements caused by the developing war situation, was finally open in October 1939 (though there were no pews forward and we had to seat the assembled company on forms transported from the hall). How fortunate we were to have such a fine Church in the midst as we faced the grim and ferocious years that lay ahead. How bravely it survived its initial baptism of fire and has weathered the storms of those forty years. There is deep significance in the emblem carved above the doorway after the war - "Nec Tamen Consumebatur"!
I have recently been looking through my diaries of those full and eventful times (the hectic pace of the record still leaves me breathless!). They were years, for all of us, of unremitting toil in a vast field of service, with war always in the background, often in the foreground and sometimes on our very doorstep. While the men were doing their bit on the war fronts, the women carried on valiantly at home. Fuel, food and clothes were scarce but they gallantly contrived to keep essential services going and, at the same time, support the voluntary organisations behind the war effort. The deemed it "a priceless dower to live in those great times and have their part in freedom's crowning hour".
Yes, and in Faith's magnificent hour too! The dominant, abiding impression in my mind as I look back over those forty years, is that of admiration and gratitude for the faith and fellowship of the Church. "They helped me every one his neighbour: and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage." I cannot begin to mention names, but to my dying day, I shall remember with thanksgiving those dauntless pioneers, those elders, officebearers, leaders and workers who so faithful, loyally and cheerfully supported the efforts of Mrs. Warnock and myself in those trying but inspiring times. So many of them, like her, have gone to their reward but, if I could send a message to them in Glory it would be in the great words of St Paul to the Thessalonians - "We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
This splendid combination of faith and action has been the distinctive mark of St David's congregation for the half-century of its existence. The best guarantee of its future lies in the fact that these same high qualities are still present in abundant measure in the active membership today. Times have changed but the Christian campaign goes on in every generation. Such stalwart faith combats fear and supplies infinite resources of energy to those who address themselves to the Master's service.
Dear members of St. David's, this is my Jubilee salutation - faith and action - the future is yours! "All things are yours for you are Christ's and Christ is God's".
May His blessing ever be upon you all!
The Rev. T.R. ROBERTSON, BD
(Third Minister, 1947-1955)
It is a real privilege to share in your jubilee celebrations. Congratulations on reaching your half-century, and earnest good wishes for your continued spiritual prosperity. I am stirred to thanksgiving when I recall the rich inheritance I received through the abundant labours of the Revs. Wm. L. Fordyce and John Warnock, the loyal co-operation of office bearers and members, and above all the gracious blessing of Almighty God.
Mr. Buchanan, your Session Clerk, has kindly asked me to evaluate my ministry among you! Who am I to do so? The day will declare it. Yet looking back I see how wise it was to set ourselves three tasks:
The care of the Young
I remember your loving care of the young. As elsewhere, children had suffered much through wartime separation from their parents. Their lot had been to live in a world of fear and hate, confusion and tragedy. For parents, too, the aftermath of hostilities was a time of unsettlement and perplexity calling for wisdom and inner strength - the problem of finding a job, readjusting oneself to a new life, rebuilding the home.
In such a situation thanks be to God for the teachers who under dedicated leaders in five departments, taught the children about Jesus, and led their feet into the way everlasting. The aim of the Sunday School was to evangelise the home through the child.
Christian instruction was also provided for teenagers in four Sunday Bible Classes. These young folk met for recreation on weekdays as a Junior and Senior Youth Club. The Club brought lads and girls together and so supplemented the excellent work being done by our uniformed organisations - some Lifeboys, Boys' Brigade, Brownies and Girl Guides.
This education of the whole child - body, mind and spirit - laid the foundation of Christian character. In many cases it led later to Christian marriage, and continuously through the Communicants Class to committed church membership.
In all this good work we had wonderful cooperation from parents. They gave us every encouragement and support when they saw what the church was doing for their children. For many fathers and mothers the promise was fulfilled, 'A little child shall lead them.'
The Care of the Parish
The pastoral care of the parish lay heavy upon me. A community of 14,000 to be looked after by one minister! It was physically and spiritually impossible. After much pressure we were allowed an ordained assistant in 1948. Even so the task was beyond us. To visit the sick in their homes and in the fifteen hospitals in and around the city - from Killearn to Mearnskirk - with funerals, vestry counselling, planning and caring for organisations, presiding at countless meetings, to say nothing of presbytery duties, left no time to discharge my obligations to the parish. Yet I had been inducted into the pastoral charge of St. David's, Knightswood.
Obviously the parish had to be visited. But by whom? It became clear the instrument must be the congregation. Now we might have invited the church's evangelist, Rev. D.P. Thomson, and his team to do the job. But we felt it both right and expedient to do it ourselves. They were our people and we were known to them. A team of officebearers, guildswomen and Sunday School teachers met for preparation. With much trepidation but supported by prayer they went forth two by two in Christ's name taking the church's message of Friendship to the parish. They returned overjoyed. Their fears had been groundless, their faith was confirmed. God had gone before them preparing the hearts and opening doors of opportunity for the gospel. Consequent on that visitation many attended communicant classes, some receiving adult baptism.
The Care of Souls
Jesus said, "Without me you can do nothing". We knew that the most skilfully-run organisations could accomplish nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit regenerating the heart and renewing the will, that prayer was the way into blessing. This we preached, counselled and practised.
Prayer meetings were held in some elders' districts, and we had a midweek service for prayer and Bible study. Interest in such meetings was encouraged by the B.B.C.'s Radio Missions of 1950 and 1952 and by Tell Scotland. It was not, however, till 1954 that the blessing clearly began to fall. Following a visit that year to St. David's by Billy Graham's advance organiser, more and more people came to our mid-week service until about ninety attended.
Dr. Graham and his team were welcomed at a special Sunday service in Glasgow Cathedral in the spring of 1955. That same evening his deputy, Dr. Grady Wilson, preached in St. David's. For months before training classes had been held in the city for advisers and counsellors. I found myself an adviser and on the Crusade's interdenominational Prayer Committee, whose chairman was the saintly Rev. Andrew MacBeath principal of the Bible Training Institute. We produced the Crusade's prayer cards, planned prayer-centers and linked the Crusade to the churches in Glasgow and beyond.
A great cry arose from the hearts of multitudes in and out of the churches to the throne of grace, and God heard that cry. Thousands attending the mass meetings were blest indeed. But the blessing extended much further. Our Prayer Committee instituted a careful enquiry which established from numerous reports that many who had never got to the Kelvin Hall had been won to faith in Christ through house-groups met for prayer in the very streets where they lived. A record of this was compiled by the secretary of our Committee - a very valuable document testifying to the power of prayer. Meanwhile in St. David's something was happening. A large number of persons made a public commitment of their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, asks the critic, did it stick? From personal knowledge and from conversation with officebearers and members and through private correspondence, I can state that it certainly has. Numbers of our young people have gone into the full-time work of the church, in the parish ministry and in Christian service at home and overseas. Many more by their life, obedience and consecration bear witness to their faith in Christ. One cannot visit St. David's today without sensing the living presence of Christ. The note of joy and expectancy in worship, the warmth of fellowship, the prayer-concern and intercession for those in need, the eagerness in service - all these express the spiritual vitality of a people whom the Lord has blest.
Look back then with thanksgiving. Look upward for wisdom and power. Look forward with confident hope. You have the promise of the Master, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
THOMAS R. ROBERTSON
The Rev. ARTHUR G. GUNN, B.A.
(Fourth Minister, 1956-1961)
It is with great pleasure that I write this note of congratulations to you all on reaching this important milestone in your life as a congregation. I have been asked to write something of a reminiscent nature.
My memories of my life amongst you are all most pleasant. When I was inducted as your minister in 1956 the communicant roll was just a little short 2000, a wonderful tribute to the sterling work that had gone before.
During October-November, 1957, the late Rev. Dr. D.P.Thompson and I launched a visitation campaign which brought in many new members. God was very good to us in those five years of ministry.
I was so very well served by elders, managers and by excellent assistants - the Rev. Harry Thompson, the Rev. Eric Alexander, the Rev Roy Tuton, the Rev. Ian Fisher, the Rev. John Balchin, and the Rev. David Innes.
On the material side our managers re-floored the halls and enlarged the main hall stage. In the church they installed the velvet curtain and gold cross, together with the stained-glass windows in memory of the late Rev. Fordyce. Then, of course, we erected the illuminated cross on top of the tower.
These were gloriously fruitful years, and when it was with the utmost reluctance that, at the call of God, I took up what proved to be eighteen years of ministry in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in New Zealand. It was there that Mrs. Gunn died, in December 1975. A lovely stained-glass window of "The Good Shepherd" was installed in her precious memory.
Now I have re-married, and am living just above the beach in lovely Rothesay Bay, in Auckland's North Shore. We look out across the beautiful island-studded Hauraki Gulf. I am actively helping the minister of our local church, and have been leading tours to the Holy Land and Europe, and we hope to include Scotland in the summer of 1980, when it might be my great pleasure to meet you again in our beloved St. David's.
May your future be even more blessed of God than the past.
With every good wish.
Yours in Christ's Service,
ARTHUR G. GUNN
The Rev. J.G.S.S. THOMSON, MA, BD, BA(Oxon), Ph.D.(Edin.)
(Fifth Minister, 1961-1973)
The 11 year ministry of the Rev. J.G.S.S. Thomson, MA, BD, Ph.D>, brought to St. David's a depth of scholarship not perhaps normally associated with such a charge. From theological seminary in the Eastern States he returned to his native shores bringing a wealth of learning and experience to a well-grounded congregation. Following the ministry of the Rev. Arthur Gunn, many who had been led to a sincere faith in Christ were ready to be nurtured into deeper spirituality and others from beyond the bounds of the parish were attracted to his solid biblical teaching.
Dr. Thomson was a writer and his book "The Praying Christ" sold not a few copies from the church bookstall and city bookshops. We understood another book to be in the making but the would-be author's commitment to St. David's left little time for further literary work. The theme of his one published volume is however typical of the man. He believed in prayer. He encouraged his members to pray. He was regular himself in the place of prayer, and under his leadership the "late night prayer meeting" found its notch in the congregation's calendar. As around the world on the first Friday night of each month groups of Christians gathered to pray for revival, so in St. David's a small company met in the fellowship of prayer and sought God's blessing on the parish and wider work.
Serving longer than any of the other ministers to date, it could be asked what there is to show for his 11 years. What resulted from the two learned and scholarly addresses each Sunday - from the Tuesday evening lecture to the Bible Hour - from the chaplaincy of two schools - from the outreach in hospital and eventide home - and from all the pastoral work? One cannot list spiritual results as one can count money in the bank, but looking over the years we can count several young men who responded to the call to train for the ministry of the Church, whilst others dedicated themselves to the wider work of missionary service. One young man writes as follows:-
"During the period of Dr Thomson's ministry I like several other members was seriously challenged to consider the call to the Christian ministry. It was in the context of a normal worship service that God spoke to me as the Word was faithfully expounded. The Lord's Word 'you have sought to do things in times past. Now then do it' (2 Samuel 3:7) was the spur which I required. The faithful exposition of the Scriptures was central to a ministry which had a depth and a dedication. Dr. Thomson was a man of prayer, he believed in the Greatness of God and that only with Him are great things possible. I am sure that many were brought nearer to God as they were introduced to the atmosphere of prayer."
In June 1973, Dr. Thomson accepted a call to be Minister of Wigton Parish Church, thus ending 11 years of fruitful ministry for the Lord.