The assembly at Holburn Gospel Hall has been meeting in its current premises since 1928 and today numbers around fifty in fellowship. The assembly, however, traces its roots back to the latter part of the 19th century and some remarkable work which was done by brethren from a variety of evangelical backgrounds – one of the more notable being a preacher from the North-East Coastal Mission named Donald Ross who saw a great work done in the area.
Following the 1859 revival in the North East of Scotland, local groups of Christians had begun to meet, but since much of this work was done by an evangelical core from the Free Church of Scotland believers seemed unsure of their ecclesiastical position. By 1870 however two particular groups meeting in Aberdeen had discovered the truth of the weekly breaking of bread and having ‘found’ each other determined to come together, and so was born the first assembly in Aberdeen. They met in a small chapel in Gallowgate. In a very short space of time those premises became too small and in 1873 the assembly moved to new premises in St. Paul Street.
The assembly currently meeting in Holburn Gospel Hall traces its roots back to this development and is today the main trunk of the tree which sprung from these early beginnings in St. Paul Street.
During the next fifteen years or so, in view of the general expansion of Aberdeen and the lack of public transport on Sundays, a number of satellite assemblies were established – all in happy fellowship with St. Paul Street and generally all came together for Sunday afternoon ministry. By 1901 there were five assemblies in existence – St. Paul Street, Footdee, Windsor Place( the beginnings of the current Hebron Hall), Woodside and Torry. Aberdeen Journals published an article in April 1901 identifying these five assemblies and publishing numbers present as 479. Numbers remaining in St. Paul Street at that time were 164.
In 1920, the premises in St. Paul Street was sold, and the believers had to find alternative accommodation and for a period of time they met in the Aberdeen Music Hall. In 1928, the old Holburn Free Church building became available for rent and the assembly moved there that same year, ultimately purchasing the building in 1948.
Little is known about development of Holburn assembly during the 1930’s and 1940’s since those who would remember these days are in the glory. However, from around 1950 through to the 1980’s numbers settled at around 110 and the assembly continued to grow spiritually. During that time, the assembly continued in its evangelistic outreach on a number of fronts and developed its strong Bible teaching ethos. A feature of this period of time was the many joint activities which took place in association with the other assemblies in the city – events included gospel campaigns, very large teaching conventions, missionary conferences and open-air outreach. Saints recall the missionary conferences in the McClymont Hall and the Stan Ford gospel campaign in the YMCA with many being saved. Many of the brethren in the assembly also helped support the Gospel Van which provided regular weekly help to the smaller assemblies in Aberdeenshire and elsewhere.
In terms of Holburn’s own outreach and activities two issues are worthy of note. Firstly, there was a very strong work centred on the Sunday School and children’s outreach. Double-deck buses were required to ship Sunday school pupils in from the Kincorth and Garthdee areas of the city and a children’s meeting was begun in these early days in the Kincorth suburb – a work which continues to this day. Secondly, the assembly has always had a deep interest in missionary work and in the early 1940’s a missionary class was commenced by the sisters and that work also continues to the present day.
The early 1980’s brought changes with some moving to other assemblies in the town and others coming into the area from elsewhere – the net effect of these changes was a reduction in the number in fellowship to around ninety. During the final years of the 20th century and the early years of this century numbers have gradually decreased – the result of an ageing population and others moving away for work and other reasons, and today, the assembly has around fifty in fellowship. A number of new initiatives have been tried over the last twenty years or so with a measure of success – for example, pensioner meetings, coffee mornings, Christianity Explored programmes and gospel teas. From these activities a number continue to attend the gatherings and some committing their lives to Christ. While Sunday School numbers have significantly reduced, the existing children’s work in Kincorth continues and a new outreach was commenced over ten years ago in another suburb of the city – Kingswells – and this work has continued with a regular attendance of around twenty.
Though numbers are less than they were, there is a good mix of ages within the assembly and there are a number of families with growing children many of whom have trusted the saviour and are now in fellowship contributing well to the activities of the assembly. There is a good level of gift both in terms of Bible teaching, gospel preaching, door-to-door work and children’s and young people’s activities, and a good percentage of the Bible teaching and gospel outreach is handled by local brethren.
So the work which began in the late 1870’s continues by God’s grace. The assembly is very active in gospel outreach which is focused on children’s meetings, regular gospel meetings, Christianity Explored programmes, regular summer outreach meetings in a local park, regular literature distribution and billboard posting. Bible teaching is focused on consecutive programmes on Sunday morning, regular two-weekly young people’s Bible Class and activities and weekly conversational bible readings. The sisters continue with their monthly missionary programme.
Please pray that the Lord will continue to bless the ongoing activities in His name.
Please visit the assembly website at www.holburn.org.uk