January 2003 (last updated 2020)
In the early 19th century a number of Christians in the UK were impressed with the importance as well as the possibility of a return to the teachings of the Bible as the sole authority for their personal and corporate lives. They began to meet together to study the Scriptures and from these early beginnings there emerged groups of Christians, not just in the UK but in various parts of the world, all committed to the upholding of New Testament principles and practices.
In the year 1887 such a group - or “assembly” of Christians as they preferred to be called - began to meet in Gourock. Among those who were instrumental in the establishing of this assembly were the late Dan Crawford (who later became a pioneer missionary in Central Africa) and a local slater by the name of John Callander1.
Over the years the assembly has met in a variety of meeting places all distinguished by their simplicity. Initially we used a hired hall in Shore Street then moved to one in Bath Street. We then hired a first-floor room in John Street (reminiscent of the Upper Room of Acts chapter 1). In 1923 we met in Royal Street, then in 1950 we bought a former girl guides hall which was located at the foot of Broomberry Drive, and we remained there until the mid sixties when we had to vacate this hall to make way for the high flats known as ‘Eastern View’. For a few years we met in temporary premises - a converted bakery off Kempock Street, kindly loaned to us by the local bakery firm of Aulds - then eventually, in 1969 we moved into the present Bethany Hall which had been purpose-built for us in Drumshantie Road and we have remained there ever since.
Whilst over the years our numbers have fluctuated, at present there are around thirty Christians of varying ages in fellowship with us, and we still strive to adhere to the teachings of the Bible, convinced that these are perfectly relevant to this 21st century. This is seen in the strong emphasis which we continue to place upon Bible teaching, fellowship, the breaking of the bread and prayers (see Acts 2 v 42) as well as upon the spread of the gospel to all ages in the neighbourhood.
How interesting it might prove for the reader to come along to one of our services and observe how these are conducted, as we seek to adhere to the apostolic pattern and uphold “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” Jude v3. We have no presiding clergyman but simply follow the leading of the Spirit of God and bow to the authority of the scriptures, acknowledging in all things the headship of Christ - He is Lord!
Our website was begun in December 2000.
Left: A relatively recent photograph of the current Bethany Hall
Click this link to see a photo of a Bethany Hall soiree circa 1980. Are you in it?
note 1: avid historians may wish to be aware that the family of John Callander maintained links with Bethany Hall into times remembered by some of those in fellowship (2016). There is no similar living memory of Dan Crawford. Although Crawford lived in Gourock, his best known associations are with the assembly in Greenock. However, author Neil Dickson cites Dr. G. E. Tilsley, Dan Crawford: Missionary and Pioneer in Central Africa (London: Oliphants Ltd., 1929), pp.24-5 as evidence of Crawford's involvement with Bethany Hall. One former member of our fellowship does recall that he used to sleep in what was Crawford's bed, acquired when houses were swapped with a member of Cruden Hall during the war. Also The Witness, vol 18 (September 1888) p.v notes the establishment of an assembly in Gourock, The Witness vol.71 (November 1941), p.296 notes Callander's involvment.