Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald
of 27 February 1903 carried the following report.
NEW CHURCH FOR ARDROSSAN - THE EVANGELICAL UNION CHURCH
LAYING OF MEMORIAL STONE
A most interesting function took place on Saturday last (21 February 1903) when the memorial stone of the new Evangelical Union Church, presently being built in Glasgow Street, was laid by Captain John Smith. The like has not happened inside fifty years.
The Evangelical Union Congregational Church, Ardrossan was formed in the year 1837 under the name of the Congregational Church, Ardrossan and stood related to the Congregational Union of Scotland until 1844 when a controversy as to the work of the Spirit compelled nine students and five churches, of which Ardrossan was one, to separate themselves into that body. The church in Ardrossan, while expressing and always showing its sympathy with and interest in the teaching of Morison, Kirk and others who formed the Evangelical Union, remained independent under the name of the Independent Church until 1894 when it became formally connected with the Evangelical Union. In 1896, a union was consummated between the Evangelical Union and the Congregational Union and this led to the adoption of the present name.
The first minister was the Reverend Peter Mather who was called to the pastorate about the year 1838. He remained until 1846 when he resigned to become editor of the Christian News. He was succeeded by the Reverend Alexander Cross who was ordained in November 1846. He laboured as pastor till 1897 and thereafter was followed successively by the Reverend J L King M A, the Reverend J M Cowan, the Reverend J Magill, the Reverend John Masterton and the Reverend George Sharpe, the present pastor who was called from the Methodist Episcopal Church, Chateauguay, State of New York and was inducted to the Ardrossan pastorate on 24 November 1901. Since his ministry began, the need for more church accommodation has been more than ever felt and Mr Sharpe, soon after his coming, set himself to the task of completing the endeavour so well and encouragingly begun in the Bazaar which was held in 1900 for the purpose of raising the wherewithal to build a new church and by means of the proceeds of which, a site was procured. A large sum of money has already been subscribed or promised and at Saturday's function that sum was considerably enhanced.
The service in connection with the laying of the memorial stone was advertised to commence at three o'clock and at that hour on Saturday, a concourse of people had assembled within the unroofed walls and on the street in the vicinity of the building. All present were invited to inscribe their names on sheets which were to be placed inside the memorial stone and at a matter of half-a-dozen points in the area of the building were tables where the inscribing could be done and incidentally, a little subscribing of spare cash as well. By this means, upwards of seventy pounds was collected. Shortly after three o'clock, Reverend Mr Sharpe accompanied by Mr John Smith, the local clergy, some members of the Town Council and the contractors mounted an improvised platform and the service commenced.
First a hymn was sung; then Reverend Mr Greenhill of Saltcoats offered up prayer; then Reverend Mr McGilchrist read a scripture lesson; then another hymn was sung; and then the Reverend Mr Adamson of Saint John's United Free Church, Ardrossan delivered a short address. Reverend Mr Adamson said it gave him very great pleasure to be there with the Evangelical Union congregation on that day for they all recognised that although our Lord Jesus Christ had only one flock, he might have many folds. He congratulated them on this occasion of the laying of the memorial stone of a church which he hoped and was sure would be a worthy edifice for the worship of God therein. He supposed none was present who did not believe that God could be worshipped anywhere but God should be worshipped with their best, not only their best of faith and fervour but also of art, architecture, music and cunning of their crafts. Riskin had said that all the money spent on useless things would be sufficient to erect a marble church in every town and village in the country. Continuing, Mr Adamson said he congratulated them on the sacrifices the congregation had made. He believed that these sacrifices were acceptable of God. He believed they might hear a voice saying "Build your house and I will have pleasure in it." but the spirit of sacrifice to which these walls witnessed must be continued. Constant and prayerful sacrifice would be required to maintain the church and keep it in a state of repair. Every member of the congregation should have a personal interest in the welfare of it. Mr Adamson concluded in expressing the hope that the gospel might long be preached in that building, the Sacraments celebrated and that God's ear might be attent to the prayers that would rise from that place of worship.
After that, Bailie Hogarth, who appeared as substitute for Provost Young in his unfortunate absence through indisposition, had a word to say. He had much pleasure in being present on this interesting occasion and was pleased to address them though he regretted that Provost Young was unable to appear in person. He had been asked to make his remarks very brief and brief they certainly would be. He would simply say that the Reverend Mr Sharpe and his congregation were to be congratulated and much to be encouraged in their endeavour. He hoped the new church would be a great benefit to the community. He was present to represent the ratepayers of Ardrossan and in that connection, a document containing the names of all comprised in the municipal constitution of the burgh had been placed in his hands, which document would later be inserted with other articles inside the memorial stone. Bailie Hogarth then read aloud the names in the document and continuing said he hoped that piece of paper would remain in the stone for thousands of years and that all that time the church would stand and prosper. Before concluding, Bailie Hogarth mentioned that the hall at the back of the church was the school at which he received the rudiments of his education. He wished the church and the congregation every success.
After the singing of another hymn, the Reverend Mr Ritchie of Greenock made a few remarks in the course of which he said he was sure the congregation must appreciate very highly the presence of so many members of the Town Council. He was also pleased to see so many ministers of other denominations present. All the various denominations, he thought, were needed to suit the many types of the people and the various temperaments in human nature. Every church had a large part in the making of the people who worshipped in it. The denomination to which the church belonged was not a large one in Scotland. The churches were mostly small and the congregations were, as a rule, neither wealthy nor aristocratic. Reverend Mr Ritchie then went on to speak of the differences between the Evangelical Union Congregation Church and the other religious denominations in Scotland and ended by expressing the pleasure he experienced in being present on this occasion.
The Reverend Mr Sharpe then spoke in his capacity as chairman. He rejoiced in the fact that he had on the platform beside him so many of his fellow pastors as well as the members of the Town Council and the contractors. He felt quite at home in Ardrossan now, although the change from America to Scotland had been great. He felt that he had come to a place where he would need to put the brake on, where things did not move so fastly as on the other side. Speaking of the church now in the course of construction, Mr Sharpe said he believed it to be a good thing that God should be worshipped in a place made beautiful by the hands of men. The building in which they stood would be worthy of the town - would be an ornament to the town - and would immeasurably improve the street. It was the duty of every man in Ardrossan to say to himself that he must have a share in the building of this church which was going so greatly to improve the town. Mr Sharpe then exhorted all present to give of their riches to the building fund.
The choir then sang an anthem whereafter Captain John Smith addressed the assemblage in a most interesting manner. He was very glad to be present and to place the memorial stone on this building. He compared the building of the church with two Scriptural incidents - the erection of the tabernacle and of the temple and made these incidents the texts for several very appropriate remarks. Those on the platform proceeded to the top of the building where the memorial stone was to be placed in the front wall. There Captain Smith declared the stone properly place and the Reverend Mr Purves pronounced the benediction.