Past to Present
At the beginning of the 1870's, fashionable Aberdeen, like most other big cities, began to move westwards. By 1872 there was enough settlement in the area for some leading Free Churchmen to feel that a church should be erected to serve the people living here. Accordingly, in 1878, a site 445' on the north side of Albyn Place Road and 449' on the south side of Carden Place was purchased for £1178. Four loans of £1500 each from the bank were raised, a large sum for those days.
The first morning service, on 18th April 1881, was taken by the Rev. Walter C. Smith, whose hymn, "Immortal, invisible, God only wise," is still a favourite in Hymnals across the world. Later in the year a Sunday School was opened "with a large attendance," and early in 1883 a "Young Man's Mutual Improvement Association" was formed.
In April, 1882 George Adam Smith was installed as minister. A brilliant preacher and a remarkable man, he was a singularly fortunate choice for the new church, his own success bringing the name of Queen's Cross Church to the public eye.
A precentor had been appointed in 1882 at a salary of £30 per annum; his duties included conducting congregational singing classes as well as training the choir. However, by 1887 there was strong pressure to install an organ. The organ was ordered from Messrs Willis & Son of London, and cost £609, together with a 'patent Hydraulic Engine for blowing the Organ' at £49. When the organ chamber had been completed the bill was not far short of £1000.
In 1892 George Adam Smith left to take up the chair of Hebrew in the Glasgow College. The communion roll stood at over 700. He was succeeded, in 1883, by Martin Lewis, a much loved minister with a special gift for communicating with the young. Martin Lewis resigned because of ill-health in 1918, and in 1919 he was succeeded by James Robertson Cameron, a man of considerable artistic gifts and evangelical fervour, the brother of D. Y. Cameron, the artist. But his ministry was not long, ill-health forced him, too, to resign at the end of 1926, and he was succeeded at the beginning of 1928 by the Rev. W. W. Gauld.
Under the Rev. W. W. Gauld's ministry, the church celebrated its Jubilee in 1931. Sir George Adam Smith was there to preach the sermon, and view with, no doubt, some satisfaction, the flourishing church which his leadership had established.
Indeed, so vigorously had the church and its organisations flourished that the question of space was becoming an increasingly vexed one. An appeal, to coincide with the Jubilee of the church, was launched in 1929, "for a sum not less than £6,500." However, the beginning of the 'thirties was not a propitious time for asking people for money, and by 1934 less than half of this sum had been raised. Ambitious plans for an extension were drawn up, to include a new hall, a kitchen, and anteroom to the platform, and a new vestry and waiting room, each with a separate W.C.
The proposed expenditure was clearly alarming, and discussion was dropped until 1936 when a less expensive plan was suggested. But by the end of that year the Buildings Committee was stating, unequivocally, that this plan provided the minimum necessary accommodation. In January 1937 the recommendation was at last accepted, and work began later that year. The extension was able to be opened on Saturday 11th March 1939, free of all debt, thanks to a generous bequest from Dr. Martin Lewis and a grant from the Baird Trust.
During the Second World War, Queen's Cross Church luckily escaped damage, though insurance was taken out to cover this, and a professional fire-watcher was appointed, to be assisted by volunteers. The church was also designated a centre for the homeless in the event of a major emergency, and the Deacons' Court had to make arrangements for the water in buckets placed around the church in case of a failure in the water-supply to be changed three times a week.
The rising tide of feminism began to make itself felt in the granite stronghold of the North. In October 1945 the Kirk Session decided that women should be eligible for the Eldership. Typical of Queen’s Cross Church’s progressive tradition the 1945 vote on women elders was way ahead of the General Assembly of the national Church. After the Assembly did agree, our first women elders were ordained in 1970.
In May 1952 the Rev. W. W. Gauld, having been honoured by the University of Aberdeen with a Doctorate in Divinity, felt that he should retire in the interests of a younger man being appointed. In November 1953 the Rev. G. B. C. Sangster acted as Moderator of the Kirk Session for the first time.
In the Autumn of 1962 the stewardship of the congregation began to explore an ambitious new avenue of service to the community - a residence for the elderly or those living alone and needing companionship. That vision came to fruition with the opening of Queen's Cross House at 54 Forest Road on 9th December 1967, providing tasteful accommodation for a housekeeper and seven residents.
None of those present could foresee that both city and congregation were poised on the edge of a new industrial revolution which could significantly change the future of Britain and the face of Aberdeen. North Sea Oil was soon to be harvested from the North Sean and the "auld grey toon" to take its place beside Abu Dhabi and Kuwait.
Under the energetic leadership of the young minister, the Rev. Dr. Edmund Jones, Queen's Cross was the first city church to seek ways of actively responding to the spiritual and social needs of the newcomers. In personal contacts, in officially organised "Welcome Evenings" run with the help of the Town Information Centre, and in special services such as the televised American Bicentennial Service on 4th July 1976 the Church sought to become a home for many nations. It seemed that the Promises of God were being fulfilled in a very special way that would have given great satisfaction to those who a century before had prayed for God's blessing on the fledgling congregation gathering to sing the "Old Hundredth" on an April morning in a new church on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
By that date, a further service to the community was being offered in the shape of a nursery school. This was established in 1971 in the new three-room extension of the church premises, at a time when nursery school provision was still generally scanty.
To mark the centenary of Queen's Cross Church in 1981, renovation of the interior introduced the present varied colour scheme instead of the previous uniform grey, and removed the pulpit to make space for activity at the front of the church.
The most striking feature introduced was and is the large memorial hanging on the east wall, depicting the Cross against a sunburst, and harmonising in its colours with the scheme of the interior as a whole.
Dr Jones left Queen's Cross in November 1983 after a lively and occasionally controversial ministry of 18 years. The Rev. Bob Brown was inducted as his successor in November 1984 and served until his retirement at the end of June 2008. Two particularly important developments took place during his ministry and under his leadership. In 1989 a harmonious union took place between Queen's Cross Church and Melville Carden Place Church. Then, to mark the millennium, further alterations to the sanctuary included the replacement of the pews by chairs. This has allowed flexible seating arrangements for church services, and contributed to a more informal atmosphere. Further, in conjunction with improvements in other facilities in the church buildings, it has made the church an excellent venue for concerts and other events. The church is now therefore better able to serve as a centre in and for the local community.