In 1980 the congregation and church building of St James the Less moved within the North of Glasgow from Springburn to Bishopbriggs. The move was occasioned by the building of a dual carriageway which required the land on which St James stood. Talk of closing the church and amalgamating with nearby congregations was countered by the vision of building a new church in a new area, recognising the population shifts which had taken place.
The foundation stone of the new church was laid in March 1980 and the church dedicated in September 1980. To mark the 25th anniversary of these events, the St James congregation held a monthly event between March and September 2005.
In March there was a special evening service on the theme of moving from the old to the new and it was followed by a consultation on the congregation’s hopes, fears and expectations for the next 25 years.
In April a Ceilidh was held to which those on the fringe of the congregation were particularly invited and it was pleasing to see a very wide range of ages (from 5 to 85) represented then.
In May about 50 people walked from the Springburn site to the Bishopbriggs site stopping off for a short thanksgiving service in Springfield Cambridge Church of Scotland in Bishopbriggs where services were held during the transition.
In June there was an outing to the seaside at Ardrossan which had been the regular venue for the annual Sunday School trip. The weather was kind to us and we were glad of the generous welcome from our sister church of St Andrew’s Ardrossan. Church tradition lives on as people even insisted in sitting in the same corner of the hall which had been their favourite in earlier years! The children knew nothing of that and just enjoyed the sand and the games…
In July we commissioned an update to our church history which took the form of interviews to record the experiences and views of people who have been members since the time of the move and of people who have come to join the church in Bishopbriggs since. Also in July, to acknowledge the congregation’s focus on the needs of the wider community and on its commitment to the causes of justice and ecumenism, coaches were organised to take folk from St James and our sister churches to the Make Poverty History Rally in Edinburgh.
In August the updated history was published in time for a 3 day Festival during which the congregation’s story was told by means of very innovative flower arrangements and a photographic exhibition. An artist-in-residence (Carol Marples from the Soul Marks Trust www.soulmarks.co.uk) was present during the festival and she helped all those who visited the festival to create an altar cloth and 7 mosaic stepping stones with designs which might intrigue visitors and lead them to enquire further about the church. The designs on the seven mosaic stepping stones are: compass points; a fish; a spiral; children’s feet; scales of justice; cups of tea/coffee; communion bread and wine. The cloth will be used for special services and the stepping stones will be placed in the church garden in the shape of a question mark to indicate the congregation’s concept of faith as a journey of enquiry and discovery guided by the Holy Spirit. The story of the encounter with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24 is a biblical passage which illustrates this.
In September, on the nearest Sunday (18th) to the anniversary of the dedication of the new church, a special service was held to review the congregation’s vision, stewardship and response to God’s call to mission over the 25 years. It was set in the context of a Bishop’s Inquiry with “learned counsel” calling seven witnesses to give their testimony together with Bible readings and hymns which illustrated it. By way of acknowledging that the vision had been one which the local congregation had pursued in the face of opposition, the service was subtitled “The Strange Case of the abduction of St James from Springburn to Bishopbriggs”. The altar cloth which had been created during the festival formed a backdrop to the inquiry and the witnesses walked into position via the stepping stones laid out in the shape of a question mark.
At the end of the service/inquiry, the Bishop’s judgement on the congregation’s stewardship was generous and favourable and a presentation was also made to John Thomson, the Architect, to acknowledge the very special qualities of the building he had designed and to which many (congregation and visitors alike) had testified over the years.
Rev’d Robin Paisley, former Rector