Record

CodeNA4628
Dates1849-1938
Person NameSt Paul Street Congregational Church; 1849-1938; Aberdeen
EpithetAberdeen
ActivitySt Andrew Street Chapel, Aberdeen was founded in 1846 in the old Relief Chapel, with a congregation adhering to the Evangelical Union under the ministry of the Reverend Fergus Ferguson. He had, until his middle age, been a businessman but had run a Bible class which the future Dr Livingston had attended, and the pair remained lifelong friends. Though the minister was unpopular with other ministers in the city, who deemed him heretical, due to an expanding congregation a new building had to be purchased in St Paul Street in 1849. It cost around £2,000, and was designed, like Trinity Congregational Church, by the architect James Matthews. Mr. Ferguson’s popularity grew and he was made a presentation of £100 in 1867 from many subscribers in the city. He retired in 1872 but stayed near the church. His successor, the Reverend A.M Fairbairn, drew a more intellectual congregation amongst whom several university lecturers were regular attenders. He later became the first principal of Mansfield College, Oxford. St Paul Street Church functioned until 1938 when it merged with Albion Street Church to become Albion and St Paul Street Church. In 1966 Albion and St Paul Street Church amalgamated with Belmont Street Congregational Church to form St Nicholas’ Congregational Church in Belmont Street. It moved to part of St Nicholas’ Church of Scotland Church in Union Street where it now shares part of the building.

Based on the reformed or Calvinist tradition, Congregationalism originated in late 16th century splits within the Established Church of England. Separatists left to form their own independent congregations, which were sometimes known as Brownists after one of their principle thinkers Robert Browne (c1550-c1633). The spread of Congregationalism to Scotland seems to have come from England. In 1647 the Church of Scotland barred people holding independent views from taking communion in the kirk. The years 1650 to 1790 saw an increase in the numbers of Congregational churches in Scotland. Some were formed by those fleeing persecution for their beliefs in England. Between 1797 and 1808 brothers Robert Haldane (1764-1842) and James Haldane (1768-1851) encouraged the growth of Congregationalism in Scotland. The Haldane's family seat was at Airthrey near Stirling (now part of Stirling University). They constituted their first Tabernacle in Edinburgh in 1799. Their system of church government was inspired by Greville Ewing (1767-1841), who left the Church of Scotland and became associated with the Haldanes. Ewing became pastor of the Glasgow Tabernacle. A split developed in 1808 between Ewing and James Haldane which led to many fledgling congregations being dispossessed and a weakening of the movement; the Haldanes joined the Baptists. In 1811 the Glasgow Theological Academy came into being largely due to Greville Ewing's vision. But many churches remained poor and unable to financially to support training for ministers.

In 1812 the Congregational Union was formed with the idea of providing mutual support, and attracted 55 member churches immediately. The essential principle was the Union represented a confraternity of churches in fellowship with each other; each congregation is regulated by meetings of church members and deacons. After 1843 and the Disruption in the Church of Scotland (after which some Congregationalists moved to the Free Church), the Evangelical Union was founded by James Morrison (1816-1863). This united with the Congregational Union in 1896, to constitute a new Congregational Union of Scotland, bringing the Presbyterian system of two courts - one for deacons and one for elders - into Congregationalism. Churches were also able to style themselves Evangelical Union Congregational (EU Congregational). In 1993, the Congregational Union changed its constitution to become the Scottish Congregational Church. In 2000, the Scottish Congregational Church and the United Reform Church united under the name United Reform Church. However, there remained a rump of about 30 churches holding true to their Congregational principles (that each church is independent and therefore no national Congregational church can exist) and they joined the Congregational Federation in 1994.
Corporate NameSt Paul Street Congregational Church
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