Hope Church (Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill) Tenth Anniversary Celebrations

Celebrations have taken place at Hope Church (Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill) to mark their tenth anniversary as a Free Church of Scotland congregation.  

Celebrations have taken place at Hope Church (Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill) to mark their tenth anniversary as a Free Church of Scotland congregation.  

A congregation meal and ceilidh were held on Saturday. On Sunday, the church gathered around the Lord’s Table led by Rev David Court who encouraged everyone to keep their focus on the “gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).  

The anniversary has been a time to mark the past –  the original members of the congregation came out of the Church of Scotland in 2014 – and to see God’s hand at work in the Hope Church congregation over the last 10 years. 

On the morning of Sunday 1st March 2014 140 or so people met in Blackwood Community Centre for public worship led by Rev Ian M Watson with Rev Andrew Longwe preaching from Joshua 3. There, the Israelites find their way to the Promised Land blocked by the River Jordan. They are told to keep their eyes fixed on the ark of the covenant, carried by the priests. Verse 4 says, Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. 

Likewise, the congregation had never been this way before, but if they kept their eyes on the Lord Jesus he would lead them. And indeed, this has been their experience.  

Rev Ian Watson said: “Since those early days the Lord has continued to bless the congregation.  

“Our first plan was to erect our own premises. Disused land was identified but access was limited. Then a house backing onto that land came on the market. It was purchased with a loan from the Board of Trustees and became our manse. An architect was engaged to design a building that would function not only as a church but as a community hub.  

“However, there were challenges, not the least of which would be creating access from the main road.   

“Then, in the summer of 2016 the owners of the local care home announced they were closing. It’s a modern building set in its own grounds in the centre of the village. Immediately, we realized that with some internal redesigning it could be converted into what we envisaged for the new-build we were planning.  

“We approached the owners and they agreed to sell it to us. The keys were handed over on 9th September 2016 and the renovation work began. Phase 1 was the auditorium—a place for public worship. Builders were employed to knock down walls and volunteers spent many hours painting and decorating. Phase 2 created a six-bedroom manse from one of the wings enabling us to sell the first house and pay off our loan to the Trustees. Phase 3 was completed in 2023 and incorporates two halls (one large, one small) a kitchen, serving area and cafeteria.” 

“During all this time ministry and outreach were not on hold. Three times a year when the schools are off because of in-service days we hold a one-day club from 9am-3pm. This has led to the establishment of a monthly after-school club.  

“Then, in order not to lose contact with those leaving primary school, we started a youth club on Friday nights.” 

Ian added: “Our vision to act as a hub for the community has also been realized. During the week our premises are used by a dance school, an art class, AA, as well as various other organisations on an ad hoc basis.  

“In 2021 grants became available for the creation of community gardens. We successfully applied and thanks to a dedicated team of gardeners we now have a beautiful sensory garden full of colourful flowers and delicious vegetables.  

“Our focus has not just been on ourselves. The membership of the church in East Kilbride had declined to a point where Presbytery was considering closing it. We agreed to partner with them with a view to revitalizing the congregation there under the ministry of Rev Douglas Cranston.” 

As we review the past decade the verse that keeps coming back to us is Psalm 118:23: “The Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.”  

  • More details about the history of the church can be found in the book “A Sad Departure” by Rev David Randall, published by Banner of Truth.