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History

History of the Congregation

Airdrie High Church (the 'High Kirk') has been a place of Christian worship for almost 175 years. In 1837, a former assistant at the East Chapel, the Rev. Thomas Burns, became the minister of a new Church of Scotland congregation in a preaching station in the Mason's Hall, in the High Street. This congregation bought a plot of land on the 12th December 1837, for £130, and in 1838 built themselves a new church, for the then princely sum of £2,000. The High Kirk was officially opened and dedicated on Sunday the 4th August 1839.

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Although the High Kirk is now a proud member of the Church of Scotland, this was not always the case. In 1843, a long-brewing disagreement within the Church of Scotland on the question of how ministers were appointed to congregations resulted in the Disruption, when 450 ministers left the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland. By a vast a majority, the minister and congregation of the High Kirk joined the Free Church and, rather unusually, obtained agreement to maintain possession of the building and the then manse from the Church of Scotland.

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In 1900, the High Kirk went along with most of the Free Church of Scotland in a union with the United Presbyterian Church and became part of the new United Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In 1929, the High followed the bulk of this new denomination in merging with the Church of Scotland. The High Kirk is one of the very few churches that has gone from the Church of Scotland and back again and is certainly unusual in worshipping in the same building through all of these changes.

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Inside the Church
At the time of the Centenary of the High Kirk, the then minister, the Rev. William Hay, wrote that "the real story of a Church cannot be written, for it is recorded in the souls of men and women." Standing in the sanctuary, you can imagine all the men and women who have worshipped and served here over the years, and who have very often left no trace behind. However, in the sanctuary there are also signs of how some of the men and women of the High Kirk have had their stories written into the High Kirk itself.

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Plaques in the vestibule and the sanctuary commemorate the life and work of long-serving ministers and office-bearers of the High Kirk. The font, which was provided in memory of a former minister of the High Kirk, the Rev John Cook. The High Kirk has war memorials, to those members who fell in both World Wars. The communion table houses the World War I memorial, which was dedicated on the 9th of April 1922. The lectern houses the World War II memorial, which was dedicated on the 5th September 1948.

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Some details are easy to miss. For example, above the pulpit is a small copper lampshade, which was provided by a Mrs MacIntyre for the High Kirk's Centenary and the two clocks on the balcony were provided by the youth of the High Kirk, the Sunday Club.

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Almost all of the windows in the sanctuary consist of glass blocks, some of the painted and coloured. These replaced what were plain leaded glass windows, and members were invited to buy a brick or bricks each. Some members and their families donated whole windows, and these have plaques commemorating the generosity of their donors. The whole window scheme cost £1,002 and was completed by 1970.

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Amidst all of these windows of coloured blocks, there is one beautiful exception, and that is the stained glass window that is the only window in the whole of the south wall of the sanctuary. This window was donated to the High Kirk by the family of Mr John Hutcheson, who served as an elder, Sunday School Superintendent and Foreign Mission Treasurer to the High for many years. It was dedicated on the 22nd of January 1939. It was the only window in this wall left behind when the Church Halls were built in the early 1960s.

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Ministers
Since the High Kirk began almost one and three quarter centuries ago, generations of Christians have worshipped and served here. In all of that time, however, there have only been 10 ministers. Some of these ministers only served at the High for a few years, although they made huge contributions to the life of the High Kirk. For example, the first minister, the Rev Thomas Burns who was instrumental in founding the High, and the second minister the Rev Robert Stirrat who steered the congregation through the first difficult years after the Disruption.

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The reason why there have been so few ministers at the High is because of three mighty ministries, those of the Rev. Robert Lawson, the Rev. John Cook (both of whom have memorial plaques on the wall of the vestibule) and the Rev. George McCabe. As you will see from the dates below, between them they account for about 130 years of ministry at the High!

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Rev Thomas Burns 1837-1842
Rev Robert Stirrat 1843-1845
Rev Robert W Lawson 1845-1895
Rev John Cook 1887-1934
Rev William C Hay 1934-1945
Rev Walter M. Ferrier 1946-1952
Rev William Eadie 1953-1962
Rev George McCabe 1963-1996
Rev W Richard Houston 1998-2004
Rev Ian R W McDonald 2007-