Revd. James Boag BD. CertMin.
BROOM PARISH – THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS
Broom Church began life as a church extension project during the second world war. A simple dual purpose church/hall, later to become known as the Ninian Hall, was erected in 1941 on the top of a hill on Mearns Road.
Although there was little housing nearby, the spot was chosen because it was expected to lie at the centre of a large housing development to be built in years to come. The first minister of the church, Rev. W Cameron Wallace was born in Fife and educated in Edinburgh. Broom was his first charge. The opening and dedication of the church/hall were held in February 1942.
Mr Wallace was minister at Broom until 1947 when he moved to a church in Wishaw. Later he became the first full time Church of Scotland industrial chaplain in Greenock, and was awarded the MBE for his work there.
The next minister at Broom was Rev. J A Turner Kennedy. An older man than his predecessor, Mr Kennedy had already served as minister in Broomhill and Helensburgh. He and his wife had a manse in Giffnock, and were tireless visitors of the congregation by bus and on foot. In 1952 Mr Kennedy retired from Broom Church and from the ministry.
His successor was Rev. J Reid Christie. Also an older man, he had been minister in a number of churches in Scotland and England, as well as having served as an army chaplain. Mr Christie was the first occupant of the manse in Ayr Road, as well as the first minister of Broom to possess a car! His ministry tended towards the evangelical. He also wrote poetry and songs about Broom. He was minister at Broom until 1957, and towards the end of his ministry, the prospect of building a new church alongside the church/hall at last became a reality.
The minister at Broom during the building of the new church and for many years afterwards was Rev. W Neilson Peterkin. The Peterkins had a ten year old son and moved into the manse in Ayr Road in 1958. Although originally from Edinburgh, the Peterkins came from a previous charge in Dumfries. Plans for the building of a new church were now well advanced.
In April 1958 Mrs Elsa Peterkin dug the first turf in preparation for the new church, and in August a commemorative stone was built in to the side of the church. The sanctuary was dedicated on Friday 15th May 1959 by the Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr John Fraser, and a vigil was held in the church by members of the church, in rotation, until the first Sunday Service the following Sunday. A feature of the new church was the stained glass window in the chancel. The details of this window and one added later at the rear of the church are described below.
The community was now growing fast with many new houses in the parish served by the church. The church membership, 463 in 1958, became 1005 in 1966. 1960 saw the first Easter sunrise service and in 1961 the Peterkins moved to the manse in Laigh Road. In 1962 side rooms were added to the church hall, however by 1963, the need was felt for an additional church hall, and in 1967 the new hall, to be called the Columba Hall, was opened by Very Rev. Lord Mcleod of Fuinary.
In 1970 the congregation marked the 25th anniversary of Neilson Peterkin’s ministry, and in 1984, the 25th anniversary of the church building was celebrated by many special events including a celebratory service in June. In 1986 Mr Peterkin retired, after what had been an extremely active ministry. He had become a well known figure on radio and television, and had served as chairman of the interfaiths committee responsible for the open air services in Rouken Glen Park during civic week, in the late seventies and early eighties. On his retirement, tribute was paid to his unstinting pastoral work and to the contribution made by his wife to the Guild, the choir and the Sunday school.
Mr Peterkin was succeeded as minister at Broom in 1987 by Rev. James Whyte. Born in Glasgow, after a short career in community education, Mr Whyte had taken his BD at Glasgow University before becoming the minister of Coupar Angus Abbey. He came to Broom with a wife and three children. Later in 1987 the church office was opened, and 1988 saw the first publication of The New Bulletin, which aimed to provide news of church events and the activities of the church organisations.
The stained glass window in the chancel at the front of the church is in the shape of a Cross and was gifted to the church in time for its opening on 15th May 1959 by Mr & Mrs James Rowan. It was designed by Ralph Cowan and shows a Tree of Life starting from the whirlpool of nothingness and rising upwards. It expresses joy and happiness in the creative upsurge of life, seeds bursting into flower, flames of fire with patterns through the flames, water and fish, the air with birds and their young, all promising the continuity of life, hope and immortality. Starting from the amoeba in the centre, it progresses to the perfection of humanity symbolised in the Cross.
The window at the rear of the church was also designed by Ralph Cowan and dedicated in 1961 to the memory of Albert McFadden. It shows the development of life, the lower panels being the beginning, “without form and void”, then above, life on earth, with daily work symbolised by the figures of the workmen at the furnaces and the nets of the fishermen who were the first disciples. The set of panels above that speaks of life eternal, the angels and the heavenly hosts, and the topmost panels the culmination of all things “when heaven and earth are passed away”.
The description of the windows is taken from ‘Broom and its Church’ by Grahame Thomson (available from the church office). The photographs of the windows are taken by John Dick who has also taken a number of the photographs of the church on this web site.
*Broom and its Church by Grahame Thomson, available from the Church Office.