Rev. Archibald McKenzie – Former minister of Blantyre Old Parish Church between 1934 and 1951.
A native of Morven, Argyllshire, he was educated at Oban High School and served in the 1st Battalion, 9th Durham Light Infantry in the First World War. In 1925, he graduated a Master of Arts at Glasgow University and in 1930 was ordained as minister.
He was appointed to St Enoch, Kelvingrove Parish Church in Glasgow and remained there until 19th March 1934 when he came to Blantyre Old Parish Church to succeed Rev Turnbull (who was ill at the time). A fluent Gaelic speaker, Rev McKenzie became the first President of the Glasgow Morven Association when it was founded in 1940. He had the difficult task of supporting Blantyre Parish through WW2 years and oversaw many funerals of young servicemen.
With his wife Margaret, they planted the blossom trees on the Avenue between the Church and the Manse that are mature now. Mrs McKenzie was Guild President during her 17-year stay in Blantyre. He was the first minister to leave Blantyre Parish in 71 years, his two predecessors having died whilst holding the charge. Events leading to his appointment in Blantyre in 1934 are worth exploring.
In March 1934, a most unusual situation arose over the appointment of a new minister for Blantyre (Old) Parish Church. By 203 votes to 53 the congregation openly rejected the candidate selected as sole nominee by the vacancy committee. The situation was most unusual, as the congregation had experienced 2 sermons by the stand-in, trial minister. In November 1933, Rev. C. S. Turnbull had retired due to ill health after 47 years as minister of the church, the longest standing minister in the church’s history, a record that remains unbroken. A vacancy committee, fully representing the congregation was appointed to make inquiries regarding a successor. After some time they were able to reduce a large list of applicants to just 40. Finally, by a narrow majority, the committee agreed to recommend a “certain minister” for the approval of the congregation. This minister conducted both services in the church on 2 Sundays.
According to Church laws the vote of the congregation must be taken within 24 hours of his appearance in the pulpit, and accordingly vote was taken on Monday when the committee’s nominee was rejected by 203 votes to 53, which is far short of the membership of the church. It would seem the congregation did not take to the new proposed candidate, which may be understandable given the long service his predecessor had put in. The committee then put forward another candidate to the congregation for their acceptance and Rev Archibald McKenzie was drafted in as permanent new and fully accepted minister.
Pictured is the interior of Blantyre Old during the 1930’s, in the era of Rev McKenzie.
Partly from “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018 and also with kind permission from Blantyre Old Parish Church.
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