During 1859, a great time of revival in the preaching of the gospel gave rise to blessing which spread from Ireland to Scotland, and many souls were saved. This led to the formation of the assemblies in Glasgow, dating from 1860. A visit to Glasgow by D. L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey in 1874 led to another wave of revival
Springburn, being a centre of employment, brought into the district a number of believers who had been in fellowship elsewhere. As there was no assembly in the area they decided to commence a testimony. Their first meeting place was a doublewindowed shop which was converted into a Gospel Hall in 1881. Following a Gospel Tent campaign in 1884, conducted by W. J. McNeely of Ireland, many were saved. The shop was now too small to accommodate the growing assembly, so they moved to a larger hall in Cowlairs Road, where they remained for a number of years. By the time the assembly had been in existence for 21 years, this hall also had become too small. The brethren decided to build a new hall to meet their requirements.
A NEW GOSPEL HALL
The new hall was completed in 1902. An extract from The Witness magazine states, ‘Christians who have formerly met in the Gospel Hall, Cowlairs Road, Springburn, have removed to their beautiful new hall, Hillside Place, adjoining the station’. (This became Hillkirk Place in 1928). The cost of the building was £908, the painters bill being £50! (In comparison with this, when in 1970 the hall had been set on fire by vandals, the partial rebuilding in 1973 cost almost £23,000).
The first annual conference was held on 3rd November, 1906. In 1907, The Witness reported that ‘Colonel Beers of Toronto gave a series in Springburn Hall’, and in November 1907, ‘Mr John Ferguson commenced in Hillside Place; attendance good; quite an ear for the gospel. Mr Ferguson continued for five weeks and the meetings were the largest and most fruitful for some time.’ The annual conference in that year was addressed by Dr Matthews, Alex Marshall, H. Pickering and John Ferguson.
Gospel campaigns were regularly held, and the Lord added to the church. There is no record of the number in fellowship before 1931, but by then it was 299, rising to its highest ever level of 343 in 1935. Sadly, today, the numbers have dropped to 36, of whom 32 are retired. This drop is partly due to the closure of the St Rollox, Hyde Park and Cowlairs railway engineering works (the working population having been cut dramatically)‚ the movement of young married couples from the assembly to housing developments outwith the Springburn area. Also, there is apathy shown by many of the remaining population to the gospel message which is faithfully preached every week.
MANY PREACHERS – ONE MESSAGE
Over the years Springburn was blessed through the Lord’s servants who ‘preached Christ and him crucified’. Some may remember names such as Edward Rankin, William Hagan, Joseph Glancy, Jack Atkinson, David Craig, John Hutchinson, Sam Thompson and Hedley Murphy from Ireland, and from the mainland, Forbes Macleod, John McAlpin, the Bros Steedman, Tom Richardson, J. H. Large, Reuben Scammel, Frank McConnel, Peter Brandon and Robert Walker.
Children’s meetings often numbered around 300, some children having to sit on the window ledges! Speakers such as ‘Uncle’ Dan Cameron, John Robb and William McInnes held their attention. The Senior and Junior Bible Classes numbered around forty in each. Currently the Sunday School is being held in a local Community Centre Hall since that is in the area where the children live. A fortnightly Youth Fellowship has an attendance of some thirty or so.
Interest in foreign mission work has always been maintained, and the assembly has been privileged to commend several missionaries to overseas service. These include: Miss Helena Davidson (Mrs Ford) to Venezuela 1923-27; Miss Jean Thompson to India 1926-66; Miss Beatrice Chisholm (Mrs Turner) to India 1947; Miss Mary Kilbride to Israel 1964, and Miss Elspeth Cochrane (Mrs Anderson) to France 1979. The latest commendation given is to Iain and Joy Gillespie. They plan to go to Zambia in 2001 (D.V.).
CENTENARY AND BEYOND
The Springburn assembly celebrated its centenary in 1981. Many past members were present to acknowledge the goodness of the Lord in maintaining a witness in the district. The witness continues, albeit on a very much reduced scale. The present assembly members are happy to recognize the truth of the words of a past servant who could say, ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us’. We await His coming with anticipation.