the "new" church
The Church was opened in October 1964.
It was the first time that a congregation of the Church of Scotland had received the shell of a building, and completed it themselves by voluntary labour. Much of the trades skills came from members of the community then employed in the shipyards and their associated contractors. The Minister, Rev. James McKay, served as clerk of works.
Two features of the new church were its crosses. A 40 foot high wooden cross stood outside and was the gift of Mr & Mrs Robert Bannerman, Knightswood. The other, a metal cross on the chancel wall was made by Messrs Barclay Curle, Shipbuilders, and gifted to the church by a former works manager, Mr Malcolm McLean. The entire church could proudly claim to be "Clyde Built".
The Rev. James McKay wrote in 1964:
"My Dear Friends,
The date of the Dedication of our new church will be 17th October, at 2 p.m. There is great relief and satisfaction in being able to fit this final date, although we shall be working at considerable pressure up to the last minute.
One clear lesson has emerged over the past eight years - that no matter how insoluble a problem may appear to be, given the willingness to submerge oneself completely in the will of God, the answer will be found.
The church is built. It is a beautiful building. It is unique. It is an achievement of which nobody can possible feel ashamed who has had even the slightest part in the building of it. But before us now lies the task of building a calm, dignified, worshipful and yet friendly atmosphere. For this we require all. This is something in which we can all partake. In only means attending church every Sunday. We believe this too can be done.
With sincerest good wishes,
Fifty years later, the Rev. Melvyn Wood preached at the Jubilee Service. Here is an extract from his address:
It’s amazing how times have changed in the last 50 years. And we thought we were so modern – which we were in many ways. In the month of October 1964, the Beatles recorded “She’s a woman”. On the 10th, the Tokyo Olympic Games were opened. On the 14th Nikita Khrushchev was deposed as leader of the Soviet Union, and Dr Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On the 15th, Labour won the UK general election and Harold Wilson became Prime Minister the following day. Top of the Pops was in its very first season, and in the week that Roy Orbison had got to Number One with Pretty Woman, Herman’s Hermits appeared live that evening, singing “Something tells me, I’m into something good”.
Two days later, this church was officially opened. So much of life was changing. So much appeared modern and forward looking. And even though Ministers were addressed as "Reverend Sir" and knocked on doors not once, not twice, but "thrice", (as you can read in the 1964 Order of Service) the church was changing too. Its place in society was unquestioned, yet even then young and forward looking church members knew the church would have to modernise to keep pace with pop culture, new politics, sputniks, high rise flats, boys wearing long hair and girls wearing the most amazing, teeny weeny mini skirts.
This church must have looked the part for the swinging sixties. Fit for purpose as you might say. No more of that dark, gothic woodwork, - all light and bright. And with a young, energetic minister, his unstoppable wife, and their lovely young family, there must have been a palpable sense of optimism that day. A sense that God really was doing something wonderful here in Blawarthill. Something (someone) told them, they were into something good.
Herman’s Hermits were singing those words to the world. But in the Church, the Holy Spirit was conveying the same message. It was a good time for the Church.
And today, for all that God has enabled us to do from this church building, over these last 50 years, and for the dear and faithful souls that laboured here, laughed here, wept here, worshipped here, and found Jesus Christ here - so many of you present today, so many more nearer, my God, to thee, we give God our sincere and heartfelt thanks.
Something tells me… that with the Holy Spirit leading us into the future, we at Blawarthill are still into something good.