Church Planting 2
ERSKINE BAPTIST CHURCH
Erskine New Community began life in 1970 as the Scottish Special Housing Association planned to provide overflow relief from Castlemilk, Drumchapel and Easterhouse. The Baptist Union of Scotland was encouraging churches and Associations to take note of any new developments in which there was little or no Christian witness. The appointment of a Pioneer Ministry in an area of no Baptist witness at all would have been supported entirely by the union; an Initial Pastorate would be jointly supported by an Association in partnership with the Union.
Renfrew Baptist Church wrote to the Renfrewshire Baptist Association in 1970 drawing attention to the proposed new development in Erskine and a sub-committee convened by the Rev Alan Stoddart began to look into how the church could bring new life of Jesus to the new community through the witness of his people.
In the early days of this initiative, literature was amassed, visits were made, discussions took place, and the Baptist Union of Scotland showed interest in a possible allocation of a site for a future church building. By the end of 1971, plans were well in place to begin some identified activity within the newly emerging township.
High Association enthusiasm led to plans for a Sunday morning service each week, ably supported by the Glenburn congregation. Around this time, the Girls’ Brigade volunteered to start a new Company in Erskine, courtesy of Mrs May Galloway, who was a member of Linwood Baptist Church.
Discussions with the Baptist Union of Scotland took place over a period on whether Erskine should be granted Pioneer Ministry status, but the matter was finally concluded when Initial Pastorate support was given. The Rev Alan Stoddart accepted the call to the Initial Pastorate in Erskine, and a service of appointment was held on Saturday 20th May 1972 in Renfrew Baptist Church.
By the latter part of 1974 there was a clearly identifiable, committed fellowship working together and sharing in worship, witnessing to Christ, and serving the community. Running services in the community hall was hard work, but the fledgling fellowship was on its way to becoming a Baptist Church.
At a special meeting on Thursday 21st November 1974, a draft constitution was presented for information and questions, and on Sunday 19th January 1975 the Founder Members’ Roll was opened and the constitution presented. The Rev Robert King conducted the service of constitution on Sunday 16th February 1975, when the congregation confirmed their wish for the Rev. Alan Stoddart to continue in the pastorate of the newly formed Erskine Baptist Church.
The new community in Erskine presented Alan with many opportunities to be involved with people in his own right (rather than as THE Pastor), and he was, in a very real sense, both pastor to the congregation and a representative of Christ in the community. Alan visited the new areas introducing the church and offering a welcome, and could frequently be found in conversation with people in the community hall coffee shop or in the streets. The pastor was available for the people.
Erskine Baptist Church experienced steady growth. Deacons were ordained, baptismal services were held, Student Assistantships appointed, a second Sunday School started, and a building for the church began to come to fruition when work began in late 1977. As Erskine Baptist Church entered the eighties, Alan Stoddart reflected on the previous (nearly) ten years and felt that it was time to move on, and, in late 1982, received a call to the Pastorate at Cambuslang, taking up the new post in May 1982.