Gamrie, Scotland 1946 to 2011
Gardenstown is a small fishing village on the Moray Firth in the North East of Scotland and up until the end of the Second World War there was no New Testament assembly gathering according to the scriptures in the village. There were a few baptized believers spread among a number of local churches including the Church of Scotland and the exclusive companies. These believers had been saved as the early 20th century revival spread along the Moray Firth and as local fishermen travelled south to Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth in search of catches.
During the war, two believers from the village were posted by their respective forces, one to the Orkney Islands and the other to Northern Ireland. During these postings they both learned the truth of believers’ baptism and of gathering only to the Name of the Lord Jesus. They were both baptized and received into local assemblies – one in St. Margaret’s Hope in Orkney and the other in Londonderry. During these days they maintained contact not only with each other but with other believers in the North East of Scotland and in the fishing communities in Fife. Their fellowship locally, and regular contact with these other believers greatly helped the two brethren in deepening their knowledge and understanding of the scriptures and divine truth. They determined on their return to Gamrie after the war to establish a New Testament assembly in the village. Both of their wives were baptized in Cullen assembly and, in 1946, they began to plan for an assembly to be established. They had a problem, however, which seemed to trouble them – neither of them could sing! The Lord was however looking after even that seemingly small matter.
At around that time a couple and their daughter moved to the area from Manchester, where the brother had been stationed. They intended to move to Fraserburgh, some twenty miles from Gamrie. They were unable to find a house in Fraserburgh but found a suitable property in Crovie immediately adjacent to Gamrie and came to live there – they were, as a family, excellent singers!
These then formed the nucleus of the assembly in Gamrie and they first gathered in mid-1946 to remember the Lord in an ante-room in the local public hall.
They met there for some time and the assembly prospered with believers moving to the area and other local folks being saved, baptized and added to the company. They yearned for a place of their own in which they could establish and expand the testimony. A man in the village had a particularly large garden with two long barn-like sheds. One of these was purchased and converted into a Gospel Hall. The assembly continued there into the 1950’s and numbers steadily increased. An article appeared in the local newspaper, submitted by a visitor to the village in which he spoke of being moved by the beautiful strains of Crimond and Belmont being sung in harmony – emanating not from a large beautiful church building but from an old barn.
In 1956 the other shed was purchased; both buildings were demolished and a new hall was built. It opened with a well-attended conference on the 23rd March 1958. Speakers at that conference were Peter Murray, Isaac Cherry, Jack Gamble, and David Fyall. The assembly grew to around forty-five in number during the latter half of the 1950s and was helped by the ministry of a number of brethren from across Scotland, who in their turn, received much blessing and encouragement from the warmth of fellowship enjoyed in the assembly in Gamrie. Also, while most of the local brethren had to be away for periods of time to follow the fish shoals, the assembly was greatly supported by a number of brethren who travelled from Aberdeen on a regular basis to help maintain the work. During this time the assembly continued to be very active in Sun-day School work, open-air outreach, Bible readings and ministry – the Lord blessing their activity.
During the 1960’s numbers reduced somewhat as young people had to move to other areas for employment and a number of older brethren were called home. At one time there were eight widows in the company – true ’mothers in Israel’ with a care for the saints and providing needed hospitality. The Lord continued to work among the believers in the village convincing of the need for baptism and commitment to the local testimony so much so that in 1973 a total of four couples and a sister were baptized and received into fellowship and the Lord continued throughout the decade to add to the company such as should be saved.
The assembly currently numbers thirty-two in fellowship, but is still impacted by the need for some to move out of the area for employ-ment. However, the saints continue with enthusiasm, still seeing good numbers of unsaved attending gospel meetings. The believers’ experience of the sea seems to add an edge to the gospel witness and a closeness in the fellowship which many who visit from time to time are privileged to enjoy.