Rankin history

Brief history of Rankin Parish Church - Strathaven

Reverend Alexander Rankin


At the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May 1843, the retiring Moderator announced that he and others could not regard it as being an assembly free from interference from the State and led a procession from that Assembly to Tanfield Halls in Canonmills in Edinburgh. Here, joined by Ministers and Elders from all parts of the country, they proceeded to constitute themselves as the first General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. Among those present was the Reverend Alexander Rankin, Minister of the East Quoad Sacra Parish Church, Strathaven, since 1842.

In parishes where the Minister “came out” at the Disruption he was, not surprisingly, followed by the majority of his Congregation. In Strathaven, some 300 of the Members of the East Quoad Sacra Church followed their Minister into his self-imposed exile. At a meeting of “Mr Rankin’s Congregation” held on 22nd June 1843, a Resolution was unanimously approved which established the Congregation as adhering to the principles of the Free Protesting Church of Scotland; resolved, if necessary, to build a new place of worship and appointed a Committee to take care of all that would ensue.

The fears of the Congregation about not being allowed to worship in their old Church in Chapel Road were quickly confirmed and they had to build a new Church and Manse, which they did. However, the Church required to be re-built in 1883 and this is the building in which we worship today.

In 1900, the union of the Free and the United Presbyterian Churches was achieved and the distinctive name of the Rankin United Free Church was adopted in order to avoid confusion with other United Free churches in the town. It is very rare for a Church to be named after its Minister and this action must be seen as a great tribute to a man who served his parish faithfully and well for a very long time.

In 1929 the main issues which had led to the Disruption of 1843 were resolved with the Churches adopting a Uniting Act to become one Church under the name of the Church of Scotland. Thus, for the first time since the 18th century, the vast majority of Reformed Churches were gathered into one church organisation and it created a formula by which the Church could profess to be a National Church without being a State Church.

Since its formation, Rankin Parish Church has had only seven Ministers:-

1843 – 1900 Reverend Alexander Rankin
1899 – 1950 Reverend Thomas Milne Dey, MA, BD
1946 – 1954 Reverend Robert McLachlan Wilson, MA, BD, PhD
1957 – 1968 Reverend John Heron
1968 – 1979 Reverend James Greig
1979 – 1991 Reverend Alistair Lindsay Jessamine, MA, BD
1991 – Reverend Shaw James Paterson, BSc, BD, MSc (Med Sci)

In 1960, Rankin was linked with Chapelton Parish Church – the church in the village of the same name some three miles to the North. The Linkage has proved to be very successful, with each congregation retaining its own identity and independence under the one minister.

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