St Mary’s Parish Church is without doubt one of the most impressive buildings in Kirkintilloch. Its imposing gothic tower can be seen from almost anywhere in town and for a good distance beyond. The Church was completed in 1914 at a cost of £15,000 to house the congregation of St Mary’s, who can trace their roots back to 1190 and the St Ninian’s Church beside the Old Aisle Graveyard. From 1644 to 1914, the congregation met in the Auld Kirk, but bad ventilation and crowded conditions forced the minister, Rev Thomas Angus Morrison, to request a new building. After lengthy campaigning, including threats to stop taking services, his request was approved. Rev Morrison travelled around Great Britain to cherry-pick the best architectural features from the Churches he visited. Interestingly, while most Churches traditionally face east, St Mary’s is built along a north to south line. Depending on who you speak too, this is either because of the shape of the piece of land, simply to emphasise the buildings lavish attributes to passers-by or massage echo’s of the time.
Mr Morrison was very concerned with the loss of life in the 1914-1918 War and five Commemorative Services were held in our church in honour of the fallen. He was also responsible for the Book of Remembrance which can still be seen built into the Reading Lectern. In 1919, he celebrated his silver Jubilee as minister with a special service conducted by Rev Ogilvie of Cumbernauld. He was responsible for our War Memorial Window being installed.
Mr Morrison died suddenly in 1941 after serving his Church for a period of nearly 51 years.
Rev Peter Brodie began his ministry as Assistant to Rev Morrison in our church in 1940. When Mr Morrison died in 1941 Dr Brodie left Kirkintilloch. He was surprised and delighted when he received the call to be Parish minister in Autumn of 1941 and was inducted to charge in January 1942. Always interested in serving his King and Country in this time of war, he was one of the first to volunteer for Home Guard and was later to serve with the Church of Scotland’s Mobile Canteen Service in Normandy from late 1944 until the end of the war in Europe in 1945.
On his return, he was instrumental in setting in motion the fund raising activities which eventually led to the building of the new halls.
Dr Brodie left St Mary’s in 1947, having received a call to a bigger charge at St Mungo’s Alloa .
Rev Frank Haughton was inducted to our church on the 9th September 1947. He immediately took a leading role in all organisations and forming of many new ones including the Boys Brigade in 1959.
Mr Haughton retired on 2nd September 2000 after 53 years at St Mary’s. Mr Haughton still continued to worship in the Church until his death on 31st March 2013 aged 97.
Rev Mark Johnstone was Inducted as the fourth Minister of the current St Mary Parish Church on Thursday 14th June 2001 until 17th March 2019. During this time Mark has been Parish Minister, Convenor of Mission and Discipleship Council of the Church of Scotland; convenor of Education and Nurture Task Group with responsibilities for the educational and nurturing work with Children, Youth and Adults of the church. On 4th April 2019, Mark took his new post as the Minister of Glasgow Cathedral.
Ministers of the Parish Church
• 1893 – 1941: Rev Thomas Angus Morrison
• 1942 – 1947: The Very Rev. Peter Philip Brodie
• 1947 – 2000: Rev Frank Haughton
• 2001 – 2019: Rev Mark Johnstone