Charlotte Babtist Chapel (1905-1913)




Christoper Anderson was pastor of the original Chapel which seated 750, and it was soon packed to overflowing, although actual membership was never more than 130. A series of short pastorates followed over the next fifty years. 1859-60 were years of religious revival in Scotland, in which the Chapel shared, as they did also when Moody and Sankey visited Edinburgh in 1873. That led to the highest membership in the nineteenth century, 232, but numbers fluctuated as many Scots emigrated, some to London, others to the Americas and Australasia. By 1901, membership on paper was 108 but less than half of them attended. A handsome financial offer for the building came from a business requiring a warehouse. What should the Chapel do? No minister - scarcely a congregation - no vision - should the church close its doors?

Joseph Kemp. A ‘faithful remnant' refused the offer and invited a young man from Hawick, Joseph Kemp, to become the pastor. He called the congregation to prayer, cleaned the building from top to bottom and held meetings in the open air in Princes Street, inviting passersby to join them for the evangelistic evening service.

In 1904 Kemp went to Wales for two weeks to experience the revival. On his return there was a conference (in January) where people were told about the revival and from that day revival began at Charlotte Baptist Church. The Church was open virtually every day for a year. Sometimes the people were so caught up in the Spirit of Prayer that the pastor could not preach.

It looked as if the revival was cooling down, but it burst into flame again, and by the end of 1906 the burden for prayer became even stronger. Kemp described a prayer meeting at this time, 'the fire of God fell. … There was nothing, humanly speaking, to account for what happened. Quite suddenly, upon one and another came an overwhelming sense of the reality and awfulness of His presence and of eternal things. Life, death and eternity seemed suddenly laid bare. Prayer and weeping began, and gained in intensity every moment. As on the day of laying the foundation of the second temple, ‘the people could not discern the noise of the shouts of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people’ (Ezra 3:13). One was overwhelmed before the sudden bursting of the bounds. Could it be real? We looked up and asked for clear directions, and all we knew of guidance was ‘Do nothing’. Friends who were gathered sang songs on their knees. Each seemed to sing, and each seemed to pray, oblivious of one another. Then the prayer broke out again, waves and waves of prayer; and the midnight hour was reached. The hours had passed like minutes. It is useless being a spectator looking on, or praying for it, in order to catch its spirit and breath. It is necessary to be in it, praying in it, part of it, caught by the same power, swept by the same wind.'

The revival went on all through the year, but towards the year end it seemed to cool, however it was to get another breath of wind at the start of 1908.

By 1907 the congregation realised how inadequate the old building had become and drew up plans for a new one on the same site - the present Chapel. It was opened in 1912 and the following year they experienced revival again.

The strange thing is that Edinburgh was not touched by the impressive revival that took place here.

For more information see, ‘Glory in the Glen,’ by Tom Lennie published by Christian Focus Publications, p118-27, 155-6.

See also 'Revival in Rose Street,' by Whyte and 'Joseph W Kemp, The Record of a Spirit Filled Life.'

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