“How It Started” – Galston


From time to time we publish the story of how an assembly started, because we believe that the infinite variety of God’s methods, stimulates faith and enterprise.

In the late 60’s of the 19th century a number of Cornish tin-miners and their families came to Galston in Ayrshire, and their coming made an impact on the religious life of the coal-mining

In those days the people of Galston, like the people of most other communities in Scotland, were God-fearing. They had a regard for the keeping of the Sabbath Day and the periodical fast-days, and were diligent in their observance of “the Sacrament.” They were truly religious, but their religion lacked the joyfulness of the Evangel.

The Cornishmen found no church in Galston to suit their needs, as many of them were Methodists, and not a few were truly “born again.” Their religion was in striking contrast to the religion practised in the town, for many of them had imbibed the spirit of Billy Bray.

Their singing was bright and cheerful, their prayers were simple and sincere, and at their services they seemed to get on very well without an ordained minister. Their preaching was plain, simple and direct, and at every meeting appeals were made. Conversions were not numerous but they were real, and transformed lives, coupled with the sincerity of the Cornishmen, attracted the attention of a few devout men and women in the town. These left their places of worship and joined themselves to the Methodists.

Amongst them was Mrs. Robert Blane the saintly mother of William Blane, the author of a religious poem of world-wide fame - “Thirty Pieces of Silver.” Mrs. Blane, in the purposes of God, was to play an important part in the establishment of a Christian assembly in Galston.

The Methodists and their adherents were keen students of the Bible, and “the Book” was their sole guide. They did not always agree on the interpretation of texts, and a crisis came when one of their number propagated Christadelphian doctrine, teaching the sleep of the soul. Those who could not agree with this teaching became the nucleus of an assembly in Galston. They met in Mrs. Blane’s house, and “the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible” was their watchword. However, like the Ethiopian eunuch, they had no-one to teach them, and they stumbled and hesitated much.

At that time, no doubt in the mercy of God and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there came to Galston a solitary preacher, whose heart was aflame for God, and who had a passion for the souls of men. Alone he stood at Galston Cross and preached the gospel with sweetness and conviction. This young man was William Lindsay and, unknown to him, Mrs. Blane had been listening to him. Her heart rejoiced at such fruitful witnessing, and she invited the preacher to her home. Mr. Lindsay remained with the Blane family for some weeks, and he, along with the Cornish Methodists and the local friends who had gathered around them, closely studied the New Testament. There they saw the truth of gathering together to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine until He comes.

So it came to pass, in the beginning of 1871, the Cornishmen and a few other Christians in the town gathered in this way for the first time in the humble home of Mr. and Mrs. Blane. They suffered reproach gladly, but in due course God honoured their testimony, and a few years later the assembly in Galston numbered 130.

From that day until the present a faithful testimony has been maintained, and amongst those in fellowship today are descendants of those Cornish tin-miners whom God, who “works in a mysterious way His wonders to perform,” sent to Galston to establish a witness for Him so many years ago.

John S. Borland (Galston)


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