Church recognised at anniversary of United Reformed Church

by Douglas A Yates

Group photo
Douglas A. Yates, Susan Niven (Salvation Army), Provost Jim Fletcher, Myra Rose URC President, Rev. Andy Braunston URC, Rev. Dr. John McNeil Scott, URC

To celebrate United Reformed Church’s 175th anniversary in the Levern Valley, a dinner was held in the Dalmeny Park Hotel, Barrhead on Friday 27th September.  Besides the attendance of members of that church and its minister and local Church President, Myra Rose, the Provost of the local government body of East Renfrewshire, Jim Fletcher, was there as well as some other local church representatives.   

Douglas A Yates, Paisley Stake Director of Public Affairs, who lives in Barrhead, represented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He had cultivated relationships with local church representatives over many years.

The background of the United Reformed Church lies in the 19th century when there was much dissatisfaction with organised religion in Scotland.  The Free Church of Scotland and the various churches that became the then United Secession Church was formed to allow local congregations the right to call their own ministers.  This was important as at this time local landowners appointed ministers and often paid their stipend – these ministers were beholden to the landowners.

Rev James Morrison trained for the ministry of the United Secession Church but disagreed with them in teaching that Jesus Christ died for all humanity not just a select few chosen by God.  Consequently, he was suspended from the Kilmarnock Presbytery shortly after he was ordained.  However, he continued to lead worship, which did not endear him to church authorities.

His father and two other United Secession ministers were suspended for similar views and, with James Morrison, founded the Evangelical Union.  In 1844, an Evangelical Union congregation meeting in the Masonic Hall in Neilston, in the west-central Lowlands of Scotland, was established with 145 members, moving nine years later to its current location in Barrhead, a couple of miles from Neilston.   Around 1914 the Evangelical Union congregation united with the Congregational Union of Scotland.   

During the 1990's the Scottish Church ‘Initiative for Union’ aimed to unite the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Congregational Union into one body but failed due to doubts about governance structure.  Nonetheless, in 2000 the Congregational Union of Scotland united with the United Reformed Church.

Today, the United Reformed Church congregation meet in their small hall in Barrhead with about 35 members in attendance for worship each Sunday.