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Holytown Parish Church

A Brief History Holytown Parish Church
Prior to Holytown Parish Church being built there was Meeting House in the village where the people held  Services of Worship.  How far back this Meeting House goes is not known but referent to it is made in the  history of Both Parish Church.  The date was 1688.  We are told that the new minister of Bothwell Parish  Church, John Orr, was ordained at the Meeting House in Holytown.  We can therefore trace a place of worship  within the village in at least five different centuries.  Holytown Parish Church is the second Church of Scotland built within the area covered by the Parish of  Bothwell.  The position of the church was dictated by the need to serve not only Holytown but the eastern end  of this fairly extensive parish.  In the early years worshippers came from Calderbank, Chapelhall, Newarthill,  Carfin, New Stevenston, Mossend and Carnbroe.  The opening of the Church on 1st October 1837 must have been a very wonderful occasion.  The honour of  being the first preacher goes to the Rev Walter Laidlaw Colvin of Shotts Church (now Kirk of Shotts).  The first  minister, the Rev Robert Gillon, was not inducted until the 26th of October 1837.  This marked the beginning of  a new era and re-awakening in the district.  Mr Gillon was a comparatively short time in the village but he did  set the pattern for the years ahead.  In 1843 the Rev John Wilkie came to Holytown and remained for 42 years, the longest ministry in our history.  Much of great importance took place during this time, the most important of which was the gaining of full status  as a church in 1862 when we became a Quoad Sacra Church.  Much of the credit for this achievement must  be attributed to the Rev John Wilkie who guided the complicated procedure to a successful conclusion.  The original church did not have a chancel.  The pulpit was in the centre with the precentor’s desk immediately  below. Communion pews also existed.  As these were limited several sittings were necessary in order to  dispense the sacrament.  At this time, and for many years to come, members paid seat rents.  The charges  varied from 3s (15p) to 10s (50[p) according to where the seat was.  Lead tokens were also issued to those  considered worthy of receiving communion.  At the beginning of 1883 the Rev Robert B Dickson was  appointed as assistant and successor the Rev John Wilkie.  The Sunday School was formed in 1883.  Mr  Wilkie died in April 1885 and was laid to rest on the west side of the Churchyard.  The epitaph reads:-  “I have fought a good fight I have finished my course I have kept the faith Henceforth there is laid For me a crown of righteousness Which the Lord the righteous judge Shall give me at that day, And not to me only but unto all Them also that love his appearing” A fitting tribute to one who had indeed served His Master well.  The Rev Robert B Dickson was the one who, in 1883, introduced hymns into the worship in the church.  This  was before the Scottish Hymnal of 1888 which was then superseded by the Church Hymnary in 1905.