The Lochgilphead Free Church has as part of its archives, the Minutes of the North Knapdale Free Church Kirk Session. In these pages you will find a description of the earliest days of a Free Church establishment. The notes begin in September 1848, wherein there is mention of Peter McBride's death. In deciding upon Elders for the new church, the congregation cast 52 votes and decided upon:

Dugald Gillies served as Session Clerk, until he left the Parish for Australia in 1855. Dugald would die in Australia in 1856.

In March 1854, a committee including John McLeod, James McLeod, Donald Graham and Archibald Campbell elected John McRae to be the teacher. Also on that date, group of new elders was elected:


The Free Church of Scotland is a Presbyterian and Reformed denomination. It currently has over 100 congregations in Scotland, as well as 2 in London, 5 in North America, and sister churches founded by mission work in India, Peru and South Africa. The Church also has a full-time theological college in the heart of Edinburgh for the training of ministers and other Christian workers, and sustains an extensive missionary programme relative to the size of the Church.

It is “Presbyterian”, which means that decisions are made by elders as they are grouped in the several Presbyteries scattered over Scotland. It is Reformed, which means that its teaching is Biblical, and follows the pattern of belief established at the Reformation in the 16th Century.

Dating from 1843, the Free Church owes its distinctive title to its historical struggle to remain “free” from state interference in its internal affairs. It has close and active relations with many other Reformed churches of Jesus Christ throughout the world, and stands firmly in the tradition which accepts the Bible in its entirety as the Word of God and, therefore, derives its forms of teaching, worship, ministry and government from it.

The main emphasis of our worship is the preaching of the gospel - the good news of forgiveness, and a new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone.

THIS IS A PHOTO OF THE FREE CHURCH, on Lochnell Street, in Lochgilphead. Inside, I found it to be really lovely. It has neither piano nor organ nor guitar. Perhaps this is why there are such incredibly lovely voices capable of leading the rest of us (me) in singing the psalms. Rev. Morrison told me that the Free Church is not a 'teetotal' one, although it doesn't encourage drunkeness (duh!). Its members must keep the Sabbath holy, a practice which is presently a difficult one to maintain. The pressures of tourism in the Hebrides has meant the ferry system works on Sunday. My impression was that the Free Church is determined to continue to follow its tenets, often in the face of fairly nasty taunting from other citizens. Rev Morrison, however, noted that Christianity has managed to last through some 2,000 years, and will continue to be a force in the future.

I must thank Rev Morrison and his wife for their kind permission for my copying this very rare and valuable record of the earliest days of North Knapdale's Free Church. Unfortunately, the Kirk Session minutes for the Established Churches of North and South Knapdale no longer exist.

Ian D. Campbell, the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, maintains a blog, "Creideamh", one that, like the best blogs, is easy going and interesting. You can find it here.