What follows is an extract from a booklet produced to celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2011…
“In Scotland, Baptist churches first emerged in the later 1700s although there are accounts of Baptist believers in the 1600s. They were variously referred to as Anabaptists, water dippers and independents. They had been influenced by Baptist groups from Europe and by Baptists and Puritans in the Cromwellian army that occupied Scotland in the 1650s. Leaders of the Baptist movement in Scotland in the 1700s included men like John Glas of Dundee, Sir William Sinclair of Caithness, Archibald McLean of Glasgow and the Central Belt, and the Haldane brothers who evangelised all over Scotland. Formal baptist churches were established around the country in the 1800s, over a dozen of them in the years 1800 – 1810.
Elgin was the first to start a Baptist congregation in Moray, in 1808, with the support of the Haldane brothers. In 1850 a 300 seat chapel was opened on the present site of that church. Several members were added from Lossiemouth and Hopeman, and in due time they applied to form their own local Baptist churches. Both daughter congregations went on to erect their own buildings – Lossie in 1868 and Hopeman in 1898.
Lossiemouth Baptist church was born at the time of powerful revivals that impacted on England, Ireland and Scotland in 1859 – 1860. The north and west of Scotland had been evangelised by men like Rev John MacDonald who had a significant effect on the country and particularly on Inverness and the Highlands. The Disruption of 1843 had split the Presbyterian church over patronage – the right of the Lairds, or the congregation to choose their minister. The ‘free’ churches, as they became, sought to have Biblical truth as their guide, rather than tradition or modernism, and to have a more evangelical ministry. This led to the rise of the Free Church and to the strengthening of a number of non-conformist groups such as Congregational, Brethren and Baptist.
The young churches were greatly encouraged by a visit in 1874 of the American evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, who preached to a huge crowd in Elgin. The great C.H. Spurgeon visited Scotland around those times, but mainly the Central Belt and parts of the Highlands. However, his sermons were avidly read, being available in the weekly Christian Herald which commenced publication in 1876. By coincidence, the Lossie church was built in the same year as Spurgeon’s huge Metropolitan Tabernacle that replaced the former Park Street Church in London.
Two 20th century spiritual movements that helped to boost the numbers and spirit of the Lossie church were the 1921 – 23 revival and the 1955 Billy Graham Scotland Crusade. The 1921 revival began in Lowestoft under the Rev Douglas Brown, and spread quickly to Scottish east coast, carried by the herring fishermen who returned home that season with more than a harvest of fish. Jock Troup was one of the preachers who helped spread the word through the fisher communities. In the first four months of 1923 there were 56 baptisms and admissions to membership in Lossie Baptist Church. For the next 50 years ‘the revival’, was a term in common use in the town when dating events from that period of intense spiritual activity.
In 1954 a young American evangelist arrived in London where he preached nightly to hundreds of people in Harringay Arena. The London campaign culminated in a rally in Wembley Stadium where the largest crowd there in post-war times assembled to hear Billy Graham’s final address. He was invited to Scotland the next year and held his nightly meetings in Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall. Relay meetings were arranged all over the country, connected by telephone link to the Kelvin Hall services. The Lossie Baptist church membership lists show a rise in baptisms and memberships after 1955 and the years following when there was a “Tell Scotland” Crusade.
The decades from 1970 to 2000 saw big economic changes in Lossiemouth with the fishing fleet being reduced and eventually wiped out by the European Union Common Fisheries Policy. At the same time the North Sea oil industry grew and many redundant fishers were able to find work on the rigs or on the service vessels. The RAF stations at Lossie and Kinloss, however, continued to provide jobs for local people, and several RAF or former RAF personnel and families joined the church and were active in the church organisations. Disappointingly, Kinloss was recently closed, but the future of RAF Lossiemouth appears to be secure for the time being. From 1940 to 1970 the air station came under the Navy and was called RNAS Fulmar. Many service men and women from the RNAS attended the church as do a number from the RAF today.
The church always had active ministries for the youth, beginning with Sunday School and Bible Class. A Boys’ Brigade company was supported around 1940 – 1950, and again around 1984 – 94. From 1953 to 1980 there was a strong Covenanter group, established and run for most of that period by Jim Brock. Then, under the ministries of Darren McLean and Trevor Wilson, youth work expanded and Kids’ Church and Alpha courses were introduced. Finally, with the appointment of Rae Mackenzie as Youth Pastor in 2008, it became a major focus of the church, and with the induction of the former youth pastor as senior pastor, responsibility for the young people’s work was taken on by Mrs Kate Wakeford.
By 2011 both the adult membership and the numbers of young people in the youth organisations had risen to levels not seen for 50 years. The church music ministry also expanded under the leadership of Sandra Stewart followed by Brian Gray who were both ably assisted by teams of adult and young musicians, singers and sound technicians.
The interior of the church has changed over the years with the numerous renovations and extensions. The old high pulpit was removed and replaced with more modern podiums which in turn were removed in favour of a simple transparent stand. A new keyboard replaced the former organ, choir seats were removed, and individual seats replaced the old wooden pews. A door from the sanctuary to the hall behind lay on the right of the pulpit. It was blocked up and replaced with a door on the left of the pulpit during the 1980s renovations. That door in turn was closed when the 2010 extension was completed, and replaced by two side doors from the sanctuary into the entrance and into the crush hall….”
The journey continues; we are living in exciting times! We continue to grow, and a second phase to the extension project is just starting as this is being written in Sept 2013. We are looking forward to administrative facilities and the refurbishment of our old halls.
If you would like to read more of the anniversary celebration, click here to download a pdf copy of the whole document.