A History of the Church in Lanark

St. Kentigern founds a Church in lanark
Earliest written reference to St. Nicholas Chapel. It was built about 1183 - the same time as the founding of the school. It was built by the Town Council, inside the town, at the Cross. The Council were responsible for its upkeep
By this time the Reformation had arrived and the church in Lanark was Presbyterian.
Stones from the belfry of the old Parish Church were being used as a building material.
The minister, Reverend William Birnie, appointed by the Crown and supported by the King and Episcopacy.
Robert Birnie (son of William Birnie) accepted Episcopacy, as did most Parish ministers, as they now had to accept the King as head of both Church and State.
The old Parish Church, St. Kentigerns, was abandoned
The Church of Scotland had become Presbyterian instead of Episcopalian.
Patronage was abolished (but returned in 1748)
The Presbytery asked the Council what they intended to do with the old Parish Church, as there were problems in the Laigh Kirk regarding accommodation for the whole parish.
The Laigh kirk was enlarged to seat 400-500. There were about 2000 people living in the burgh at that time (the extent of the modification to the walls of the church resulted in the building being declared ‘dangerous’ 40 years later).
The church was rebuilt and contained 915 seats.
Reverend William Menzies was appointed minister, by the Crown.
He introduced Paraphrases and abolished ‘reading the line’. This led to disruption within the church. A breakaway group built a new kirk in the Broomgate and joined the denomination called ‘The Relief’, founded by Thomas Gillespie in 1761 as a protest against patronage. The Relief Kirk has been described as Liberals - Evangelical, but anti-Covenanters. It is probably extremists in the Bloomgate Kirk who split again in 1799 to organise themselves as members of the Secessionist Movement.
More major repairs to the Laigh Kirk
St Leonard’s Church opened as an extension of the Laigh Kirk.
Following the Disruption within the Church of Scotland a breakaway group of members and the minister of St. Leonard’s Church formed the Free Church, in Hope Street, on the site of a previous church, which had been erected in 1829 and was the first house built in Hope Street. It had previously been occupied by the congregation of the Associate Burgh of Old Light Congregation. It was sold to the new Free Church for £100.
There were now eight churches in Lanark, six of them Presbyterian denominations.
The Kirk Session of the Laigh Kirk announced the introduction of ‘instrumental music’. The same year the foundation stone of a new church was laid on the same site as the original Free Church. The new church was called St. Kentigerns, and was opened in 1884.
St Kentigerns Free Church, with other Free Churches, united with the United Presbyterian Church and the United Free Church of Scotland was formed.
Broomgate United Presbyterian Church and Hope Street United Presbyterian Church united and became known as Cairns United Free Church.
The United Free Church was reunited with the Church of Scotland.
St Kentigerns Church united with Cairns Church. The united church became known as Greyfriars Parish Church.