The foundation stone of St Andrews Church was laid in October 1853 and it opened for worship in May 1854. At that time there was a large military presence on the Rock which included a substantial number of Scottish regiments, and the church was built by the efforts of Presbyterians who wished their own place of worship.
The past twenty five years have seen many changes. The British military population decreased considerably. The border with Spain closed then reopened. Building and development took place on the waterfront in the north west. Today the small but dedicated congregation is composed mainly of expatriates, some of whom have come to Gibraltar with the British military, some on work assignments including those with the fast developing financial services industry. Some have come to settle in Gibraltar or to retire. The age range covers a full spectrum.
Members come from a variety of denominational backgrounds and some live in Spain. Being a resort with a considerable historical background, there is a significant tourist element that swells the numbers as well as some transient visitors who stay for indeterminate periods.
A full history of the church plus archives and pictures is available on CD-ROM (see page on further resources and fund-raising publications).
A sister congregation on the Costa Del Sol was until recently linked with Gibraltar and ministers commuted between the two. During the last year that link was dissolved and the Kirk Session, encouraged by the congregation, formulated plans to develop its own ministry in line with the affordable resources. The Presbytery of Europe and the Europe Committee of the Church of Scotlands Board of World Mission (BWM) gave their approval to this on the basis that our resources will meet half the cost of this appointment.
The Kirk Session meets monthly at the church and comprises ten elders. They administer the spiritual and temporal affairs in a way similar to a quoad omnia parish in Scotland. The other governing bodies in the Church of Scotland are the Presbytery and the General Assembly, the churchs supreme court which meets annually in May. Both are composed of equal numbers of ministers and elders.
St Andrews is part of the Presbytery of Europe, which is composed of thirteen congregations in cities across mainland Europe. Following changes in 2002, it now enjoys a semi-autonomous relation to the central church administration in Edinburgh through the Europe Committee. The Presbytery of Europe meets twice yearly in rotation around the congregations. Meetings are held over a weekend with committee meetings on the Friday preceding the formal sessions. Reviews of the hosting congregation are timed for the same weekends. A meeting was held in March 2004 in Rotterdam. More information on these churches
can be gained from the Presbytery website www.europepresbytery.net
The predominant denomination in Gibraltar is the Roman Catholic church with whom we enjoy cordial relations. There are ecumenical links during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Lent, and Holy Week . Other opportunities that arise from time to time are co-ordinated by the local Ministers Fraternal that meets occasionally and represents most mainstream denominations.
There is a yearly St Andrews Day service, a Carol Service and a summer service, all of which are recorded for radio. The Governor, Chief Minister and other local dignitaries attend some of these services.
The Minister shares in the Pause for Thought slots on GBC and BFBS radio and takes occasional assemblies at the MOD-run local school, St Christophers. The current minister is an Honorary Officiating Chaplain (HOC) in the Joint Forces Command of British Forces Gibraltar whose support for the congregation is greatly valued.
Sunday worship and Sunday School 10.30am
There are not enough children to set up separate age groups for Sunday School and one teaching class caters for all ages.
Holy Communion is held six times per annum (common cup).
Worship is conducted wholly in English.
Tuesday Study Group 7.15pm (followed by bring and share supper).
Open Church 11.00am -1.00pm weekdays.
Various fund raising events are held during the year of which the major ones are the Christmas Bazaar for Church funds and an event for Christian Aid. Other smaller events take place regularly throughout the year, many based around social events to bring the members together.
2004 was an auspicious year, being the Churchs 150th anniversary. The programme of events was spread out over the whole year. Coincidentally, Gibraltar celebrated its 300th anniversary of being British during the same year.
St Andrews congregations of the past have battled on through considerable hardship and uncertainty and it is a tribute to these people that we, today, have the privilege of being able to celebrate 150 years of discipleship.