|History - New Life|
Page 9 of 10
In 1993, Rev Ian Meredith, a Minister in the United Reformed Church in England, was called to St Andrew’s. The mid 90s saw some considerable growth. New groups were started such as the Women’s Friendship Circle and various small study groups. A local homeless Scout group was offered accommodation, and various community groups were given space to use. Mission development was given a greater impetus, and we embarked on new publicity programmes. By 1995 the main sanctuary seating 180 was full and the partition was opened to allow an overflow into the hall. This is now permanent each Sunday. As a result the Sunday School had to find alternative accommodation, and were able to do so at a local youth centre, Terminal 1, a short walk from the church.
In 1996 and 1997 the other two parish ministers in Blantyre (Rev Peter Price from Blantyre Old and Rev Jim Hunter from Livingstone Memorial) retired and with Rev Meredith on Terminable Tenure readjustment and unions could be finalised for Blantyre.
However, the growth in membership of St Andrew’s in the years preceding this meant that it was not so easy now to consider a union. In part this was due to accommodation problems., but St Andrew’s had also settled on a more contemporary approach to church life and worship. Livingstone Memorial had retained a more traditional ethos. It was felt that there was good reason to retain a range of different worship styles for the Church of Scotland for a growing town and so it was that St Andrew’s and Livingstone Memorial resisted any plans for union.
In 1997 Blantyre Old Parish Church was given permission to call a new minister on an unrestricted basis and subsequently Rev Rosemary Smith was inducted in 1997. Thus Blantyre Old would not be part of any readjustment plan. In September 1997, the Presbytery of Hamilton announced that St Andrew’s was also now to be given full status and that the Terminal Tenure was to be removed. Accordingly, Rev Ian Meredith was formally inducted to the new full status charge on, appropriately enough, St Andrew’s Day – 30th November 1997.
The removal of the inevitable uncertainty that had been hanging over the congregation encouraged investment in the facilities. In 1999 the Church of the Nazarene building, which is located behind St Andrew's Church, was bought primarily to accommodate the Sunday Funday Club but also to provide increased space for other organisations. Study groups and worship services in the more intimate Nazarene Hall (as it is now called) are held regularly.
1999 was a frantic year in the short 20 year history since the new St Andrew's building was opened. Not only was the Nazarene Hall purchased but also a new manse in Glasgow Road to meet the requirements of the Church of Scotland.
Not long after the completion of these purchases Rev Ian Meredith resigned his post. There was considerable anxiety that this would lead to more uncertainty. However, a sympathetic response from presbytery was received and approval was granted almost immediately to continue on full status and seek a new minister without delay or restriction.
This was achieved in a very short time, with Rev Peter Johnston being ordained and inducted iinto his first charge in April 2001, only 6 months after Rev Meredith’s departure.