Gourdon Mission Hall History
In 1854, mention is made of the existence of a Sunday School in the village. William Coull, who died in 1920, was teacher and superintendent from 1854-1916, receiving a Long Service Certificate on his retiral. This certificate is still in the possession of his descendants.
We learn from the ‘Montrose Review’ of 30th July, 1858, that a new development took place that year. “Last week a meeting was held in the Town Hall of Bervie for the purpose of forming a local auxiliary to the North-East Coast Mission Society, recently formed in Aberdeen. It was presided over by Rev J. G. Small and Rev Mr Watt, Free Church Ministers at Bervie and Kinneff, respectively. This Society has agreed to place a Missionary between Montrose and Bervie, and two others between Bervie and Aberdeen, to carry out evangelistic work in the coast villages.”
There was the beginning of a religious revival in the Inverbervie area in 1859 through the work of a Mr Collie. The ‘Stonehaven Journal’ for August of that year mentions that twelve services were held in the Parish on one Sunday and meetings were held in Bervie Free Church every evening.
By March 1860, the revival had spread to Gourdon, and the newspaper remarks that twenty-eight meetings were held in the course of one week. The meetings at Gourdon were held in a loft over the Shore Inn (now the Harbour Bar), and some also took place in Gourdon School, which was then housed in the first house in Queen Street, nearest to Bridge Street.
It was said that, "a visible change has come over the place. Many of the most careless have been deeply impressed."
The ‘Fluke Kirkie’
It seems probable that the fund to erect the Mission Hall was launched as a result of this spiritual reawakening. Tradition asserts that a fisher-wife, Jean Wyllie, started gathering funds by collecting all the under-sized fish which the fishermen generally discarded. These she gutted and hawked around the neighbouring countryside, carefully laying aside the money obtained to start a fund for the provision of a place of worship in the village. By 1868 enough money had been raised and the Mission Hall was given the nickname of the ‘Fluke Kirkie.” It was mentioned at the opening Soiree that the cost of erecting the Hall had been £150.
The Hall had also seen, in 1872, the founding of the Victoria Lodge of the Independent Order of Good Templars at Gourdon. This body was active for many years and succeeded in closing down at least two public houses in Gourdon. In 1874 they presented a Petition to Parliament “praying for the Entire Suppression of the Liquor Trade.”
A religious revival took place in Gourdon in 1887, as the result of a campaign by the prolific evangelist, James McKendrick. Many years later he wrote his autobiography entitled ‘Seen and Heard,’ devoting an entire chapter to his experiences in Gourdon.
He wrote, "… for six weeks now I only ate what would keep me alive, and spent six hours out of every twenty-four upon my knees in prayer, confident that victory was coming. And oh the joy of my soul when God saved the chief of sinners in Gourdon!"
The Gourdon Missionaries
There appears to have been no resident Missionary in the village until the arrival, in 1890, of George M. Ross. Until then, services had been conducted by the Established (i.e., the Church of Scotland) and Free Church ministers and Lay Preachers and Agents of the North-East Coast Mission. The support of missionaries continued, latterly by the Church of Scotland's central funds, until 1980. Below is a list of the missionaries.
1890 -1898: George Macdonald Ross. Gourdon's first missionary. He left in 1898 to take up a similar post in Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
1898 - 1904: James Erskine, who later migrated to USA to undertake evangelistic work.
1904 - 1909: Captain David Ross, the Superintendent of the North East Coast Mission
1909 - 1948: Helen Macintyre, came from Pollokshields Mission and gave thirty-nine years of loyal service to the Gourdon Misson.
1950 - 1951: John Firth, Appointed by the Home Board of the Church of Scotland, before becoming a minister in the most northerly parish of Scotland; Unst in Shetland.
1951 - 1965: Angus Ross, formally of the Church of Scotland Mission in Calabar, Nigeria.
1965 - 1971: William Osler Nicoll
1972 - 1980: Magnus Sandison. He was Gourdon's final missionary, beginning in January 1972, and retiring in September 1980.
As a result of financial difficulties, the North-East Coast Mission in Gourdon was taken over by the Scottish Coast Mission in 1914. In the 1940s, the Scottish Coast Mission was in its turn taken over by the British Sailors’ Society, but in 1948 this Society withdrew its support and the Home Board of the Church of Scotland undertook to provide a Missionary. This continued until 1980.
Today, the Faith Mission holds regular meetings in our halls, continuing the long history of faithful preaching and evangelistic work.
Mission Hall Renovations
The porch of the Mission Hall was erected in 1939, largely through the generosity of a Gourdon lady resident in Aberdeen. Electricity was installed that same year.
Around 1950 extensive renovations were carried out, including the erection of a pulpit, rescued from the East Church at Bervie when it was being converted into the Church Hall. The floor and seating were also renewed at this time. Then, about the 1960s, during the time when Mr Angus Ross was Missionary, the Mission Hall Committee began a project of restoration and they undertook an extensive programme of refurbishing the Hall. They installed new lighting, heating and seating, laid carpets and redecorated. The Mission Hall Committee had the whole building ready for the Centenary Service in 1968.
In 2018-19, further alterations were made, including interior painting, a new carpet, comfy padded seats, and modern storage, making the hall a welcoming and comfortable place to worship God and enjoy each other's company. In 2022-23, a new servery and toilet were installed.