At the Annual General Meeting held on Sunday 15th of March, the Congregation agreed to accept the 90th Annual Report of Scots Church Adelaide. Although the history of the Chalmers Church on the corner of North Terrace and Pulteney Street goes back much further to 1851, 1929 was the first year of the new entity called Scots Church Adelaide, formed from the amalgamation of Chalmers Church with Flinders St Presbyterian Church. In this edition of TALK we provide an overview of the ninety years of Scots Church Adelaide in two ways. From the camera of Gavin Kerslake, we have a photograph taken in March 2020 which shows the present skyline of the church and its steeple, with the recently completed apartment block rising high to the southwest. Although this new development appears to be overwhelming the Scots Church building, Gavin’s photo shows that it is still possible to see Scots steeple against a brilliant blue sky. Thanks to Gavin for using his gifts in this memorable shot.
The second way of looking at the ninety years of Scots Church Adelaide is through an historical overview, including photos of both buildings and ministers, prepared by Evelina Bruhn, from materials in the Scots archives. Her account begins with a more detailed description of the amalgamation of 1929. You can read this article on below.
On Sunday 15th March 2020 Scots Church Adelaide held it’s 90th AGM. Ninety years ago, on 1st January 1929, Chalmers Church and Flinders Street Presbyterian Church amalgamated to become “Scots Church”. Prior to this date each church had held their own AGMs, but on amalgamation the AGMs covered the activities of both churches, now both known as “Scots Church”.
The amalgamation of the two churches was approved by the Presbytery, which expressed deep appreciation of the “fine spirit of harmony, goodwill and Christian feeling” which had characterised the meetings between the churches, and commended the new congregation to the grace and care of Almighty God.
For the next 30 years Sunday morning services were held at Flinders Street and evening services at North Terrace. This arrangement continued until Flinders Street was sold in 1955, with the final service being held there in January 1957.
The first minister of the newly amalgamated Scots Church was Reverend Norman LD Webster, who was inducted in September 1929. His ministry was a popular one. He left in 1939 to accept a call to St Andrew’s in Brisbane. Testimony was given to his “outstanding eloquence and ability as a preacher and to the personal esteem of all who knew him”. A tablet to his memory was erected in Scots Church.
On 28th September 1939 Reverend JR Blanchard was inducted into Scots Church. He preached his last sermon at Scots on 26th February 1958 and his 18-year ministry had been a very active one. The annual report for 1957 says:
“The inspiration and vigour of his preaching are unimpaired;
his wide leadership and resourcefulness in counsel
have always been available
his active interest in all organisations of the Church
have been gratefully appreciated.” [Image: Chalmers Church 1910]
Rev Blanchard was the State Moderator in 1943 and 1944, and Moderator General, Presbyterian Church of Australia from 1948 to 1951.
Reverend David Hodges was inducted into Scots Church on 17th February 1960. During Rev Hodge’s ministry the concern of the minister and the congregation was for a greater church outreach into the community and for increased involvement in youth work. Therefore, an associate minister was appointed, and Reverend Ian Tanner was introduced to the congregation at a special service held in December 1963. In 1965, Rev Tanner accepted a Call from the congregation and in August of that year was inducted as a Collegiate Minister.
The Collegiate Ministry of Rev Hodges and Rev Tanner proved to be a successful partnership. Innovative and interesting ideas were introduced in ways to improve the outreach of the church, particularly in the area of youth. Rev Hodges accepted a call to Toorak Presbyterian Church in Victoria in June 1970.
Reverend Don Marks became an associate minister to Rev Tanner and was ordained on 5th December 1968. He left in June 1970 to study at Princeton University, USA.
Excerpts taken from Rev Bert Scrimgeour’s article the “History of Scots Church.” Photos courtesy of the State Library SA, Rev Don Marks and Gavin Kerslake. Thank you to Evelina Bruhn who has researched and compiled this article.
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