Christ Church, Warwick

The Church of Scotland in Bermuda - Founded in 1719 

 

 

 

Christ Church is English in origin, taking its life from the English Puritans who colonized Bermuda in the early 17th century. Although there is evidence of much earlier association with the Church in Scotland, and preference had always been shown for Scottish ministers, it was not until 1843 that the congregation took steps to become part of the Free Church of Scotland. In 1929 Christ Church, which had been with the United Free Church of Scotland since 1900, became a part of the Church of Scotland, formalizing its relationship as a full member in 2001.
Christ Church was built in 1719 on land given by Thomas Gilbert of the Warwick Tribe. Additions and alterations have been made but the original walls remain. In 1837, the height of the walls was increased, a new roof was constructed, larger windows were put in and the tower built. After a similar lapse of time the Church was again reconstructed in 1958. Of the three galleries, only the North remains. These were occupied at different times by the choir. During the first reconstruction the congregation worshipped at Belmont, then occupied by their minister, Rev. Archibald O Grieg, and now the Belmont Hills property. As the walls of the original Meeting House still stand, Christ Church has the honour of an unbroken Presbyterian descent from the earliest settlers who first set foot upon the Islands.

The small cedar "Whitefield" pulpit likely dates back to 1719. James Williams, who had been freed from slavery a few years prior to Emancipation Day, August 1st, 1834, built the mahogany pulpit now in use with the canopy or sounding board in 1837. Williams lies buried in the Northeast corner of the Churchyard in grave 150. The stained glass windows in the church date back from 1922 until the present time. The candelabra, made by Mr. Henshaw of Edinburgh, are the gifts of two ladies in memory of their mother. The organ, built by Mr. Mander of London, was installed in 1968, largely by the generosity of the late Mr. W.S. Purvis.
In 1844 the Session adopted the name "Christ’s Church," which was shortened by usage to Christ Church. In 1845, Christ Church opted to become part of the Free Church of Scotland which, in 1901, became the United Free Church of Scotland. It remained so until the split in the Church of Scotland was healed in 1929. The "Model Constitution" was adopted in 1982.
Near the North gate of the Church lie men of the 42nd Royal Highlanders or Black Watch, who died of yellow fever while in Bermuda. This Scots regiment was stationed in Bermuda from 1847 to 1851.


Thorburn Hall, immediately West of the Church, was built in 1893. It memorializes Rev. Walter Thorburn, minister of the Church from 1852 to 1886. The West Hall and kitchen were added in 1964. In 1978, the foundation stone of the new Church Halls was laid by H. E. the Governor, Sir Peter Ramsbotham. In 1979, the completely renovated Thorburn Hall, the four new small halls, the Hutchings Porch and the McCallan Porch were dedicated.


As the precise date on which Christ Church opened is unknown, we have chosen our birthday as being the 24th of April. It was on that day in 1719 that Thomas Gilbert executed a deed of trust granting one-half acre of land so that the "people of the Presbyterian persuasion" might erect a "Meeting House." This tract has since been enlarged by gifts, or virtual gifts of land, from Mr. and Mrs. William Obadiah Dunscombe and their heirs and from Mr. Copeland Stamers, as well as by purchases.

Christ Church's relationship with the Church of Scotland changed with the passing of the Act Anent Overseas Charges 2001. A review in Edinburgh of overseas charges from 2005 to 2007 led to a reorganization and as a result Christ Church became a member of the Presbytery of Europe in May 2008, as part of the Church of Scotland.

 

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