St Andrew's Church, Jerusalem
St Andrew’s Church, Jerusalem, was built as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers who were killed fighting the Turkish Army during World War I, bringing to an end Ottoman rule over Palestine. It is a congregation of the Church of Scotland.
One of the main campaigners for the memorial church was Ninian Hill, an Edinburgh shipowner and Church elder. The foundation stone was laid by Field Marshal Lord Allenby on 7 May 1927 and the church was opened in 1930 with Ninian Hill as its first minister.
The Church was much used by Scots serving in the Mandate administration and soldiers serving with Scottish Regiments stationed in Palestine during the Mandate and the Second World War. After the out break of hostilities in 1948 the church was on the front line. Firstly between Jewish forces in West Jerusalem and Palestinian irregulars in the Old City, later between the Jordanian Arab Legion soldiers and the Israeli army. The minister, William Clark Kerr, remained in the Church throughout this period, ringing the church bell and conducting Sunday services. In one cable to Edinburgh he wrote: "All night battle round the building... St Andrew's Cross (flag) on both church and manse. If that is not enough will try Rampant Lion."
Services are held every Sunday at 10am and there is a guest house providing accommodation for visitors.
There is no full-time minister at present, since George Shand completed his time and returned to Scotland.
As with Judaism and Islam, the City of Jerusalem is of special significance to Christianity. The first Scottish missions to the Galilee started in the mid 19th century, and for the next 100 years Scottish Presbyterians were actively engaged in the fields of education and medicine. Psalm 122 is invariably sung every year at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland held in Edinburgh every May:
- "Pray that Jerusalem may have
- peace and felicity:
- let them that love you and your peace
- still have prosperity."
- (first verse of Hymn 82 in the Church of Scotland hymnary, fourth edition)
Following World War I, the British Mandate in Palestine lasted until 1948. This substantially increased the number of Scots living and working in Jerusalem. Following the end of the British mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel, the number of Scots working in Jerusalem dropped drastically. The church’s prominent location on the Jerusalem skyline also proved a difficulty, given that it found itself very near to the ‘Green Line’ politically dividing Jerusalem and cut off from the Christian community in the Old City. The building still bears marks from fighting during the Six Day War of 1967.
With an increase in Christian visitors to Jerusalem, the church and its guest house started to cater for more visitors. In recent years, the Church of Scotland, both through its local congregation at St Andrew’s and thorough its World Mission Council, has become conscious of the need not only to minister to pilgrims from overseas, but also to promote reconciliation and engage more fully with the peoples and problems of this troubled land.
The church and guest house is located at: St Andrew's Scottish Guest House, PO Box 8619, 1 David Remez Street, Jerusalem 91086.
Other work of the Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland also has other facilities nearby – notably Tabeetha School (an English language school at Jaffa where Christian, Jewish and Muslim children are all welcome) and the recently (and – due to the cost – controversially) refurbished Church of Scotland Centre and Scots Hotel at Tiberias.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to St Andrew's Church, Jerusalem.|
- Church of Scotland in Israel/Palestine
- St Andrew's Church and guest house
- Church of Scotland centre at Tiberias
- Image of St. Andrew's Church at night
- Tabeetha School, Jaffa