There has been a well documented religious presence in Galston going back to the Celtic era of Columba and beyond. Galston had been an important ecclesiastical centre in the 12th century, established by the Trinitarian Order of Friars from the monastery at Fail, now Failford, who had a building and enclosures erected soon after 1252. The Galston church was dedicated to St. Peter, the Rock. The Reformation in 1560 brought wholesale change, with the Monastery of Fail being razed to the ground. Twenty-five years passed with no sitting minister, but around 1569 a church was built. and in 1592 a minister was appointed.
Life in Galston seems to have passed easily and tranquilly for the next 40-odd years but that changed with the National Covenant of 1638. These were stirring times. 1592 saw the Great Charter of the Church of Scotland. 1603 was the Union of the Crowns. 1611 gave the world the translation of the Bible and a Kirk Byble was bought for Galston in 1638 and in that same year the first General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was held in Glasgow. Two hundred men of Galston joined the Covenanting Army with their new minister, Alexander Blair and 25 did not return to the town. The name of Alexander Blair can be seen on the flat stone in the Covenanters’ Corner situated at the south porch entrance of the church.
It was during the tenure of Dr George Smith as minister from 1778-1823 that the main change occurred in the actual building of Galston church. By this time the dilapidated state of the old church, the increase in population and in church going habits demanded a bigger and better building. By 1801 there were some 1,100 inhabitants in Galston, most of whom attended church on a regular basis.
The new church was dedicated on 18th June, 1809, by Dr. Smith and the collection uplifted was £1 6s 71⁄4d. The church was built to seat 1,020 people. It was well lit, high in ceiling and its spire rose 120 feet. 70 years later the area was entirely re-seated, a new floor was put in and a new platform pulpit to replace the double-decker octagonal pulpit with the precentor’s desk in front was installed.A precentor was a man who sang the tune and led the singing of the congregation
Dr. Robert Stirling D.D, who was minister of Galston Parish Church from 1824-1878 was a remarkable man who took great interest in things scientific. As the inventor of the Stirling engine, he is a still innovative today and which was the subject of a BBC2 programme, Local Heroes, in 1998. The plaque was erected in his memory by the Kirk Session, members of the congregation and
others. Under the plaque sits a silver bowl. Filled with flowers, it graces many a wedding photograph and was presented in On the top landing is an old wooden table and chair, recognised as the original Communion T able and Chair . On it stands a Time Capsule, courtesy of Dr Robertson and John Yeudall. It contains several items of historical interest including some of the pewter communion vessels that used to be in the Session House. This capsule was created in 2000 as part of the Millennium celebrations.
In 1914 when Belgium was overrun by Germany many fled to other countries and 11 families were welcomed to Galston, housed, fed and befriended. While they were here – from November 1914 to February 1919 – babies were born, couples were married and a few died. On their return to Belgium the ladies sewed a flag and it is now displayed on the back wall of the church.
In 1910 Galston Parish Church still had a precentor, but all the other churches in the Valley had some form of organ. The Carnegie Trust put up half the money for the organ – a gift, not a loan – and the congregation found the rest. It was built by J. & J. Binns of Leeds at a cost of £1,000 in 1912 and is one of the finest examples of its kind in the West of Scotland.
In 1967 the Hogg Hall was built, providing a superb facility which is now increasingly used by many different organisations, both those affiliated to the church and external clubs and groups.
In 1980, there was a union between Galston Old Parish Church and of Galston New Parish Church which in its turn had been a union of Erskine Church and Trinity Church. After the union the first minister in charge was Revd T. J. Loudon Blair. Mr Blair graduated from Glasgow University and came to us from Dundee Wallacetown. During his time in Galston many changes occurred. We have corresponded with partner churches in India, Malawi and Nepal; a conversation with a sister church in Ahrensfelde was set up before the fall of the Berlin Wall. This came about due to a friendship that had been struck up between Mr Blair and a German friend he had met during his time of study in Germany. Many reciprocal visits have been made over the years and many new friendships have been formed. It was also at this point that a massive restoration of the church took place.
Revd Blair was one of five nominations in 2004, an ordinary Parish minister, to serve as Moderator of the Church of Scotland for 2005-2006. That he did not get the nomination is rather immaterial, as the very fact of his inclusion in the list of those thought to be suitable for the post shows how much he was thought of by his peers and not just his congregation. When the final decision came to appoint the Revd David Lacy of Kilmarnock to the Moderator’s position, perhaps T. J. Loudon Blair, though no doubt disappointed, was also a bit relieved. He had already intimated that he planned to retire in July of 2005 and now he was able to hold to that plan. He retired to Girvan. In March of 2006, a scant eight months after his retirement, he was diagnosed with a terminal illness to which he succumbed in June of that same year. His funeral service, led by the Presbytery, was held in Galston Parish Church and was massively attended.
Following Loudon Blair, we had Graeme Wilson as our minister. Graeme had been living and working in London for RBS for nearly 15 years when he felt the Call. He left London, his career, flat and friends behind and moved to Edinburgh in October 2000 to study Divinity at New College and graduated with BD (Hons) in July of 2003 and was ordained and inducted to Galston Parish Church in January 2006 where, as he said, "I spent seven happy years as a minister." Although Loudon Blair was considered an impossible act to follow, Graeme Wilson was both popular and a good preacher. He moved to Bearsden Cross Church in 2013, leaving a vacancy in Galston.
We were then exceptionally fortunate to have Revd Alistair Symington as Locum Minister for the next four years. A Chaplain-in-Ordinary to HM The Queen in Scotland, he had just retired from Old Parish Church in Troon. A first-class preacher, he and his wife Eileen were very popular with the congregation and in the local community. During this time, the original stone on Robert Stirling's grave (in the cemetery in Cemetery Road) had fallen into such a state of disrepair that in May 2015, a new stone, raised by subscription, was dedicated by Rev. Alastair Symington.
The vacancy finally ended with the Induction of Rev. Kristina Hine on 17th November 2016. The first female - and the first American - minister in Galston's history, Kristina has settled in well to the parish and is making and winning friends for the church in Galston.