Tealing Parish Kirk, by Kevin Price

The following was sent to me by Pastor Kevin Price, which I publish here with his permission:

This is Tealing Parish Kirk in County Angus, just six miles north of Dundee, at the foot of the Sidlaw hills, a scattered village of isolated farmsteads mixed in with modern commuter bungalows. The present Kirk was built in about 1808, possibly on the site of a much older foundation, the first church in Tealing having been built in 710AD by Boniface, the papal missionary who founded around 150 churches in the north east of Scotland.

Sadly, around 1,300 years of worship came to an end when the Church of Scotland closed the building in 1982.  Since that time it has stood forlorn and boarded up, but there are now signs that it is to be converted to residential accommodation. The building accommodates around 700 worshippers but the only activity now is that of visitors to the large churchyard, who come to tend the graves of their loved ones.

Tealing’s claim to religious fame is that Rev John Glas (born in 1695, who had 15 children, all of whom pre-deceased him) became its minister in 1719, shortly after he was first licensed to preach.  He was a very popular preacher and crowds flocked to hear him. Before long, however, he began to expound his views on the National Covenants, the relationship between the Church and the State and the right of the latter to interfere in matters of religion. This caused a schism that affected much of Scotland and he is sometimes referred to as the ‘father of Scottish Independency’  

In July 1725, he formed a society of 74 people to exercise discipline and hold monthly celebration of Communion in his preferred manner.  Consequently he was brought before the Presbytery in 1727 to explain himself.  He denied the divine authority of the Presbyterian form of Church government and his Presbytery suspended him in April 1728 and in due course this led first to his suspension by Synod, and ultimately in March 1730, to deposition by the Commission of the General Assembly. He formed an independent congregation in Dundee and subsequently churches were established in various parts of Scotland and England.  In Perth he was joined by Robert Sandeman who became his son in law and who assumed the leadership of the new sect, known as ‘Glasites’ in Scotland but as Sandemanians in England..

Whilst the views mentioned above may not seem all that strange, being found in many sects and denominations to a greater or lesser degree, it was Sandeman who added his doctrine as to the nature of saving faith:

‘That the bare death of Jesus Christ without a thought or deed on the part of man, is sufficient to present the chief of sinners spotless before God’  (this is inscribed on his tombstone)

Although the Glasites have been extinct as a body since 1999, their teaching on saving faith lives on and has affected many churches of various persuasions.

Thank God that the inward working of the Holy Spirit nevertheless continues, bringing the Lord’s people to a sense and conviction of inward sin, and causing us to flee to Christ for salvation. No amount of theory can replace true saving faith.