A transcript from an article in The Scots Magazine, Volume XXVII, Page 614, reads “On Monday, Nov.25. (1765) [year date inserted by Rev Garry A Ketchen], an Antipaedobaptist administered the ordinance of baptism to two adults, in the water of Leith, hard by Canonmills, near Edinburgh, in the following manner. The two persons being first stripped, were clothed with long black gowns, and then went into the water, along with their minister; who, after repeating some words in their ordinary form, took them by the nape of the neck, plunged them down over head and ears, and kept them for a little time wholly under the water.”
The minister who performed this ordinance was Robert Carmichael, a former pastor of the Glasite church in Glasgow who, after corresponding with another minister, Archibald McLean, had become convinced of believer’s baptism by immersion and was himself baptised on 9th October, 1765, in the Barbican Meeting House in London.
The two who were baptised at Canonmills near Edinburgh on 25th November 1765 were soon joined by five others. They were Dr and Mrs Robert Walker, Joseph Strachan, Elizabeth Brown, Margaret Harley, Joseph Wainwright and J. Harlaw. These seven, along with their pastor, Robert Carmichael, constituted the first Baptist Church in Edinburgh. This church is still in existence today; it is Bristo Baptist Church, Edinburgh.
Second Oldest Baptist Church in Baptist Union (after Keiss in Caithness)
Over its 250 year history the church has worshipped and met in, and ministered from, a number of different locations in Edinburgh such as the Magdalene Chapel, Richmond Court, St Cecilia’s Hall, the Old High School in Infirmary Street, the Pleasance Baptist Chapel, Bristo Place and of course our present building which is located on Queensferry Road in Edinburgh.
As you can imagine this is a very exciting and significant year for us as a church as we look to celebrate our 250th anniversary in November 2015. Various events are in the process of being planned which we will publicise later in the year, though you may want to note that there is a Scottish Baptist History Project day conference at Bristo on Saturday 21st November 2015. We are also delighted that our General Director, Rev Alan Donaldson, will be preaching at our morning service on Sunday 29th November which, coincidentally, happens to be my 1st anniversary as pastor of Bristo.
As a church we would love to hear from anyone who has been part of Bristo Baptist Church over the years especially if you would like to share some inspiring memories of your time at Bristo. If you have any artefacts, books or old photos of Bristo that you would like to share with us then please contact us either through the main church number, 0131 332 3682, our church e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our website at www.bristobaptist.org.
Also, if anyone has had any experience of producing short DVDs for mission distribution purposes then could you please contact me as I’m considering making one that will both mark our anniversary and also be used as a mission tool in our local area.
Please remember us in prayer in this important year and please let us know if you can attend any of the events or services that we will be publicising. Please remember also our sister church, Granton Baptist Church, who celebrate their 75th anniversary in May this year. We have been seeking to work closer together and have had very successful joint Christmas Eve and Good Friday services. The leadership teams from both churches have met on a few occasions and have been discussing how we may support, encourage and resource one another in ministry and mission. For example, on a practical level, each church will be providing a cleaning team to serve at the other church’s main anniversary event in order that the church members/adherents can fully enjoy their own church’s anniversary without having to be concerned about who is doing the tidying up. We are also exploring a joint prayer ministry outreach and have also arranged a joint church conference in September this year, inviting outside speakers to help us reflect on how we might work better together spreading the Good News of the Gospel.
A busy time ahead but, I pray, a very fruitful one.
Rev Garry A Ketchen