Early History

The history of Larbert East Church begins in November 1840, when a meeting was held in the Larbert Parish Schoolhouse, for the purpose of forming a Working Men's Association to promote the interests of the Church of Scotland.

Three years later, the Disruption of the Church of Scotland occurred when thousands of members disapproved of various aspects of the Church's organisation, and formed themselves into a number of smaller, independent ("Free") Churches.

On June 29 of that year, it was decided that the Association should become the nucleus of a new congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church, to be known as Larbert Free Church.

The congregation worshipped in a small building, standing on almost exactly the same site as that occupied by the present church. The church was lit entirely by candles for over fifty years, until the present church opened on March 9, 1902.

In 1918, fire completely destroyed the church hall. Police investigations suggested that a group of small boys were responsible for the fire. It was ultimately agreed, in view of the delinquents' extreme youth, that no steps should be taken to press charges in the matter. In 1924 the current halls were opened.

World War II

During World War II, aerial warfare meant blackout everywhere, so the church windows were blacked out and the Evening Service was brought forward to 6pm in an effort to conserve power. The Army requisitioned the church halls, which were occupied by troops till 1946. There was, of course, the almost inevitable damage to the halls during this military occupation, and some years elapsed before the Government squared everything up.

Arrangements had been made to take over, as a canteen, a place that for some years had been in use as a tailoring establishment. During the preliminary cleaning operations, several ladies sustained what have been described as "embarrassing accidents". The exact nature, either of the accidents or the embarrassment is not clear; they may have been of a nature which the sufferers would not wish to hear mentioned in public or to see published in print. The accidents ceased when someone produced two large magnets and drew them back and forward over the carpets. This scheme proved successful, several pails full of pins were recovered, and the work could go on.


Larbert East has been served by 10 full time ministers since it opened and numerous assistants.

This first minister of Larbert Free Church was Rev John Bonar previously the minister of Larbert Old Church. He was inducted in 1843 and served till he transferred to Aberdeen in 1846.

In 1848 Rev Finlay Macpherson was ordained and inducted and went on to spend his entire pastoral service in Larbert, retiring in 1891, after forty-three years service.

During the last years of his ministry Mr Macpherson was supported by a succession of assistants. The last of these, was Rev Peter 0. Balfour. In 1891, when Mr Macpherson retired, Mr Balfour received a call from the congregation to become their minister. Unfortunately his ministry did not last long as he died from typhoid in 1895.

The next minister of Larbert Free Church was Rev Andrew Bogle, who served till 1903, when he accepted a call to Leith. Mr Bogle later became Moderator of the General Assembly.

Rev A. Easton Spence was inducted after coming from a charge in Aberdeenshire. Mr Spence served until he was called to Dollar in 1911.

Rev W. Chisholm Mitchell,  came from Greenock, to succeed Mr Spence, remaining at Larbert East until 1925, when he retired on grounds of ill health.

Rev J. Wilson Fulton, of Kilmarnock was inducted in September of that year and remained at Larbert until 1946 when he too retired on account of ill health.

At the end of the same year Rev Peter McPhail was inducted as Mr Fulton's successor, until he accepted a call to Prestonpans in 1958.

Rev James Loudon Melrose succeeded him, remaining at Larbert East for five years and leaving in 1963 to take up a teaching appointment in Glasgow.

Mr Melrose's successor in Larbert East was Rev Eric Murray, who was inducted in the early months of 1964 after returning from the mission field in Kenya. Mr Murray remained at Larbert East until 1995 when he retired.

From 1995 our church was served by the ministry of the Rev Melville Crosthwaite, after he left his former charge of Carstairs linked with Carstairs Junction. Over the year years, Melville was supported by a number of assistants both in auxiliary and probationary ministries. 

In the last few years of his ministry, Melville was supported by the ministry of the Rev John Brown who tended to the pastoral needs of the parish, and Marianne Harvey who is our Parish outreach worker.

Rev Crosthwaite retired in 2021, and we currently have a vacancy, during which the Rev Philip Hacking is our Locum (still supported by Marianne and the Rev Brown), while our interim moderator is the Reverend Kipchumba Too of Denny Westpark Church.


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