Falkirk Nonconformist Church Histories

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Here are the histories of the nonconformist churches for Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

Erskine Associate Burgher Church, later United Presbyterian

When the parish and church of Falkirk became vacant in 1733, there was disagreement as to who should be the new minister. The elders and much of the congregation then withdrew from the Established church in 1737. They joined with Seceders from other parishes to form “The Correspondence of Falkirk”. The parish and church of Falkirk again became vacant in 1741 and again there was disagreement over the new minister. More parishioners withdrew from the Established Church and acceded to the Associate Presbytery, joining the Correspondence. In 1743, and again in 1746, the Correspondence broke into separate congregations. The church in Falkirk was built in 1742. A second was built in 1817. At the Breach in 1747, the minister and the majority of his congregation adhered to the Associate Burgher Synod, and retained the church property. In 1842, the minister of the congregation was suspended from his office by the Presbytery on account of his views of the atonement. The suspension was protested but confirmed in 1843. The congregation was split between those who adhered to the minister and those who did not. Initially, those who adhered to him retained the church property, but they eventually returned it to the portion that did not. After debts were paid the latter had a new minister appointed to them by the Presbytery. The suspended minister and his portion joined the Independent Church but he eventually returned to the United Presbyterian Church.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Falkirk Second General Associate Anti-burgher Church, also called Graham’s Road Church

At the Breach in 1747, the minority of the Secession congregation of Falkirk adhered to the General Associate Anti-burgher Synod while the majority adhered to the Associate Burgher and retained the property (see above). The persons forming the minority joined the congregation of Craigmailen and remained connected with it until 1756 when they were formed into a separate congregation with its seat in Falkirk. In 1781, the minister at that time was suspended for false doctrine. The majority of the congregation adhered to him and retained possession of the place of worship. After his death in 1813, that congregation dispersed. The portion of the congregation who adhered to the Synod rather than the minister built a place of worship for themselves in 1782, which was superseded by another in 1806 and obtained another minister. This congregation became part of the United Secession Church in 1820, then part of the United Presbyterian Church in 1847.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Falkirk West Relief Church, later United Presbyterian Church

This congregation originated on account of an obnoxious settlement of a new minister in the Established Church. The parties aggrieved applied for and obtained a supply of sermons from the Relief Presbytery in 1767. First church built in 1768; second built in 1790. This congregation became United Presbyterian in 1847.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Falkirk Free Church

The minister of Falkirk parish did not “came out” at the Disruption. The original Secession congregation, which had united with the Church of Scotland in 1839, became the Free Church. A church was built in Garrison Place and opened in 1844. A new church was built in New Market Street in 1896.
Membership: 1848, 420; 1900, 816.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Laurieston Reformed Presbyterian Church

Cameronian dissenters were to be found in Stirling and its neighborhood from very early times. As their numbers grew, congregations were divided. In May 1783, petition was made to the Reformed Presbytery to grant a disjunction between the East and West sections of the Stirling congregation. The division did not occur until November 1784. A congregation was formed which included Linlithgow, Bo’ness, Falkirk, Larbert, Airth, and Bothkennar. The church was built in 1789 in the village of Laurieston. Members came from eight different parishes. In 1849, an unpleasant case of discipline had a deplorable effect on the membership and their financial support of the minister. After the death of the minister involved, and the placement of a new evangelical minister, the congregation was built up again. A new church was built in 1863. Membership in 1875 was 130. This congregation joined the Free Church in 1876.
Source: The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, by W.J. Couper, pub. 1925. FHL book 941 K2c. More details are given in the source including a list of ministers.

Falkirk Independent Churches, Congregational and Evangelical Union

Visits from agents of the Society for Propagating the Gospel at Home were responsible for the starting of a Congregational Church at Falkirk in 1803. It was known later as Bank Street Church when a church building was opened there in 1822. The congregation was dissolved about 1835. A second church, Bank Street Evangelical Union Church, was formed in May 1843 by the minister, Mr. Rutherford and members of the Erskine Burgher Church who had adopted Evangelical Union principles. A church was opened for worship in Bank Street in January 1844. An assistant was called to Mr. Rutherford in1846. They soon disagreed and a split took place in the congregation. The majority of the members became Congregationalists; under the ministry of the assistant and were admitted to the Congregational Union of Scotland in May 1852. The minority departed with Mr. Rutherford and were known as the Cistern Lane Evangelical Union Church for its short existence, but ceased to meet in 1856, and he returned to the United Presbyterian Church. After the union between the Congregationalist Union and Evangelical Union churches occurred in 1896, the Bank Street Congregational Church switched and became United Presbyterian. After the union of the United Presbyterian and Free Churches in 1900, it became the St. James United Free Church.
There were also some short–lived Congregational mission churches in Falkirk in the 1840–1850s.
Source: A History of Scottish Congregationalism, by Harry Escott, pub. 1960. FHL book 941 K2es. More details may be given in the source including a list of ministers.

Falkirk Baptist Churches


The origin of the Falkirk Baptist Church may be traced to the great evangelical movement in Scotland which began during the closing years of the 18th century. The Established church minister denounced the preaching of the Haldane brothers when they invaded his parish. But in 1802 or 1803 an Independent church was formed and a building erected on Bank Street. After the Haldanes adopted English Baptist views in 1808, the Falkirk Baptist Church was formed. Their first meeting place was a house in the Kirk Wynd. A division later occurred in the congregation, but both parties met for worship in the same building. There were also two Scotch Baptist churches in Falkirk which united in 1826. They purchased the former Congregational chapel in Bank Street. In 1839, the various Baptist churches of Falkirk united under the Scotch Baptist form, and membership was 43. A place of worship was built in Callender Riggs in 1842. In 1850, membership stood at 63. A larger place of worship was built at Howgate in 1865, but the congregation split over form. Those at Howgate chose to adopt Arminian views in line with the English Baptists, while those retaining the Scotch form remained at Callender Riggs. The Scotch Baptist and English Baptist churches again united in 1868, but due to a dispute over property, the Callender Riggs congregation withdrew. The churches finally reunited in 1883, producing a membership of 107.
Sources:  History of the Baptists in Scotland, by Rev. George Yuille, pub. 1926. FHL book 941 K2hi and The Baptists in Scotland, by D. W. Bebbington, ed., pub. 1988; FHL book 941 K2bs.