On 14th December 2013, Bishop Gregor celebrated the final Eucharist at the closure and de-consecration of Holy Cross, Knightswood, thus bringing to an end 87 years of Episcopalian presence on the site, writes Graham Hely.
The congregation of Holy Cross, Knightswood was founded in 1926 under the Bishop of Glasgow’s Church Extension Scheme, during the development of the area for residential housing after the First World War. At that time Glasgow had some of the worst housing in Britain, notably in the Gorbals and Cowcaddens areas. Glasgow Corporation’s response to the situation was to create new housing schemes, and in June 1923 the Corporation approved a plan to erect a first phase of 1,100 houses in the eastern area of Knightswood, then open countryside.
The Diocese recognised the need to extend its work into this new area, and land was bought for future church building. In the beginning worship was held in a wooden army hut which had been used in Gretna during the 1914-1918 war. Few houses had been built by this time, with no made roads or paths. The hut stood in an isolated position making attendance on dark winter evenings a hazardous undertaking.
The first entry in the Service Register is the dedication of the hut on April 22nd 1926 by the Right Reverend Edward Reid, Bishop of the Diocese. The preacher was the Reverend P. H. Wilson, Priest in Charge of All Saints, St Andrews, whose congregation gave generous financial support to Holy Cross.
On several occasions the Bishop celebrated at the 9am service using the Scottish Office, when there were between five and ten communicants. Records show six communicants for the first Christmas in 1926, and at Easter the following year there were ten at both the early and late services. By 1932 these numbers had grown to 207 at the Christmas Services and the Easter Celebrations showed a similar increase.
The congregation were enthusiastic fund-raisers and the new Church and hall could accommodate these increased numbers. By the outbreak of war in 1939 the church was fully established with a robed choir, 80 in the Sunday School, Mothers Union meetings, Scouts, Guides and a full range of activities and events. In 1941 a land mine fell close to the church causing some structural damage and broken windows – fortunately it failed to explode – if it had the results would have been catastrophic.
Expansion continued in the immediate post-war years with the resumption of the pre-war activities. By the late fifties Tommy Pickering’s 221 Boys Brigade was attracting 100 boys every Friday night from the Knightswood/Drumchapel area. The congregation thrived and the number of communicants rarely fell below 100 at the main Sunday services.
However, within thirty years despite the strenuous efforts of clergy and laity, and the church “planting” in Drumchapel, numbers, events and activities began to decline, due mainly to movements in the local population coupled to the general fall in church attendances witnessed by all denominations.
In the final decade of the century Holy Cross was linked with All Saints, Jordanhill, and it was hoped that this linkage would help to revive the fortunes of Holy Cross. Unfortunately this did not prove to be the case; the general downward spiral continued until only a small congregation was left.
There were several consultations and discussions concerning the future of the congregation and the site and a number of options were considered for the re-development. Unfortunately none of the proposed plans came to fruition leaving the Diocesan authorities with no option but the closure of the Church and the possibility of the sale of the land.
In his sermon, Bishop Gregor commented on the fact that although this was a very sad day for all concerned it was also a day of Thanksgiving for the years of witness and dedicated service by so many people over the years – in Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and finally in the Garden of Remembrance. He called members of the congregation to the altar rail where he blessed and anointed them for the next stage of their pilgrimage as a worshipping congregation in their new homes.
In conclusion, many of those present paid a special tribute to the Revd Allan Gray Boyd, (NSM), Alan Macquarrie (Organist) and members of the Vestry for their dedicated service leading up to this final day.