David Livingstone Bicentenary Service 19 March 2013

Below is a detailed report of the Service.

[button link=”http://vimeo.com/62506711″ color=”blue” target=”_blank” size=”small” title=”Bicentenary Service”]Video of David Livingstone Bicentenary Service in Hamilton URC – opens in new tab[/button]

[button link=”https://soundcloud.com/wol1959/david-livingstone-sermon” color=”blue” target=”_blank” size=”small” title=”Lawrence Moore’s Sermon “]Recording of Lawrence Moore’s Sermon[/button]

IMG_7232-copy_edited-1 IMG_7251-copy_edited-1The David Livingstone Bicentenary Service

Hamilton United Reformed Church

19th March 2013 at 7:30 p.m.







On behalf of the members of Hamilton United Reformed Church the minister, the Rev’d. Derek Corner bid the congregation of some 160 people welcome.

In particular he welcomed

the Depute Lord Lieutenant, Helen Russell

the Provost of South Lanarkshire Council, Eileen Logan

Christina McKelvie, MSP

Scottish Synod Officials of the United Reformed Church

the President and Secretary of the Women’s Union of the Scottish Synod of the URC

Staff and Volunteers of the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre

and Governors and Trustees of the David Livingstone Trust

the First Secretary, Zambian High Commission, Steward Nchimunya, and Ms. Beatrice Mukuka, the Personal Assistant to the High Commissioner of Zambia.

Zambian guests with Lawrence Moore
Zambian guests with Lawrence Moore
The Provost, Depute Lord Lieutenant, and Christian McKelvie, MSP









It was regretted that none of the Livingstone family were able to be present, although apologies had been offered; and that David Livingstone a descendent from Philadelphia was no longer able to come due to the death of his sister      

However, the Rev’d. Mitchell Bunting, descendant of Mary Livingstone’s family, was present. Due to serve weather conditions the former minister of the congregation, the Rev’d. Stanley Britton and his wife, were unable to be present.


A few apologies were recorded, mainly because of the service being held in Westminster Abbey, laying a wreath on David Livingstone’s tomb.

the two Westminster constituency MPs

the Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire

His Excellency the High Commissioner of Malawi

the First Minister and the Minister for External Affairs and International Development of the Scottish Parliament


Greetings were recorded from

Robert Laws Secondary School, Embangweni, Malawi

Harding Striker of the David Livingstone Healthservice, Misiones, Argentina

A gracious message had also been received from her Majesty the Queen.


The minister welcomed and introduced those participating in the Service.

Rev’d. Fr. Willy Slavin of St. Simon’s RC Church, Partick.

Rev’d. Tom Wilson, of Partick Congregational Church, representing the Congregation Federation

Rev’d. John Thomson of the Old Parish Church, Hamilton, who had the good fortune to be baptised by his Aunt, the Rev’d. Jean Thomson, one of the first women ordained as a minister, being a minister of the Congregational Union of Scotland.

and the guest preacher, Mr. Lawrence Moore, who is Director of The Windermere Centre, the United Reformed Church resources and training centre in the Lake District.


Rev’d. Tom Wilson, Rev’d. Fr. Willy Slavin, Mr. Lawrence Moore, Rev’d. Derek Corner, Rev’d. John Thomson

The provost was invited to say a few words before the service. She welcomed everyone to South Lanarkshire and brought greeting to the members of the Church,; speaking of the legacy of Livingstone in Blantyre and Lanarkshire.


Why are we celebrating David Livingstone in this United Reformed Church here tonight? Blantyre was Livingstone’s birthplace, and his local Parish Church appropriately celebrated that village’s son on Sunday – to me a lovely thought that the Presbyterian Church of Scotland celebrated the life of the nearest that Scottish Congregationalism has ever come to having a saint [at least if his fame is to be gone by]   – BUT here in Hamilton was his spiritual home.

He worshipped during his childhood and teenage years in the Independent Church which eventually settled as St. James’ Congregational Church in Auchingramont Road. His parents left that congregation and are listed amongst the first ten founder members of this Church, once known as an Evangelical Union Church.


In 1896 the Congregational Union and the Evangelical Union merged, so the two churches became part of the same denomination.  In 1966, during Mr. Britton’s ministry, St. James’ Church closed its building and merged with its sister congregation, to form Hamilton Congregational Church, using this present building. 

In the late 1990s there was movement within the then Congregational Union, which eventually led to some of us merging with the United Reformed Church; and some transferring allegiance to the Congregational Federation.

As a combined congregation we rejoice in two particular historical figures;  Keir Hardie having spent some of his formative years attending worship this building – and the man whose memory we honour tonight Doctor David Livingstone.


Call to Worship and Sharing of the Peace

From the rising of the sun to its going down, let the name of the Lord be praised.

Psalm, 113:3

The congregation shared the peace of Christ our Lord.


We come to celebrate the life and witness of David Livingstone;  doctor, explorer, missionary, man of faith and of great courage and tenacity. We come to rejoice in a son of our independent church tradition in Scotland. But we also come to look forward, to see what we can learn of him for our mission together in Scotland today.

Our opening praise is one of David Livingstone’s favourite hymns.

HYMN             O God of Bethel

Prayer and Lord’s Prayer [sung]

 The second praise was one of the first hymns which Livingstone translated for the African people to whom he sought to witness.

HYMN             Jesus shall reign

 Psalm 119: 33 — 40  

Fr. Willy Slavin

Fr. Slavin began by quoting the Latin inscription on Livingstone’s tomb.  [Few, if any, of the congregation followed the words he spoke.] He then outlined the story of Livingstone being helped in learning Latin, required to train in medicine, from a young boy Daniel Gallagher. Later Gallagher became a priest and founded St. Peter’s Church, now St. Simon’s RC Church, Partick, Glasgow. He spoke of that congregation’s annual 15 mile walk from Partick to Blantyre, the walk Livingstone did on a regular basis to say one penny cart fare.

He then read the portion of the psalm.

Prayer of Thanksgiving for the life of David Livingstone

Rev’d. Tom Wilson

Matthew 28: 16 — 20

Rev’d. John Thomson

HYMN             Thanks to God whose Word was spoken


The sermon was delivered by Lawrence Moore.


Mr. Lawrence Moore

 Livingstone’s Prayer [said together]

  “Lord, send me anywhere,  only go with me.
Lay any burden on me,
only sustain me.
Sever any ties
but the tie that binds me to Thy service and to Thy heart.”

 HYMN             Sing one and all

 Prayers of Intercession

 including a prayer written by a URC minister, Matthew Prevett, inspired by the recent conclave of cardinals

 One of the most often used quotes of David Livingstone is

‘I will go anywhere; provided it is forward’

So we go forward and our closing hymn takes us back out into the world – to serve Christ in the world of today, and tomorrow, and beyond – our lives enriched by the example of those, who like David Livingstone and so many other have gone before us, giving us examples of faith and service.

 HYMN                         Go forth and tell

The preacher pronounced the benediction after which the Congregation sang

May God’s blessing surround you each day,

As you trust him and walk in his way,

May his presence within guard and keep you from sin,

go in peace, go in joy, go in love.


There was a retiral offering donated to David Livingstone Memorial Trust.


A reception followed in the Church Hall, with the celebration cake being cut by the Provost.


slideshow of images

An archive of events held during the Bicentenary year has been created and is located in the sanctuary as part of the David Livingstone display. A collection of newspaper articles is on display in the Church Hall.