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Greenbank Church celebrated its Centenary in May 2000. When it was first established it was on the southern edge of the city of Edinburgh; with the spread of new housing the site proved to have been well chosen. The original church building was what is now called the Main Hall, with the Lower Hall beneath, lying to the east of the present church. The original congregation of eleven people came from Braid Church and included Mr Joseph Bennet, who met a large part of the building costs. He is commemorated in the window in the south aisle of the church.
Greenbank Church has had only seven ministers in its history. The first was the Rev. Norman Fraser who developed the young congregation to a thriving 300 members by the time he left in 1913. His successor was the Rev. Dr Thomas Ratcliffe Barnett, a fine preacher and a notable writer, who early in his ministry planned a new church. The building was delayed by the First World War but, to a design by A. Lorne Campbell, was completed and dedicated on 8 October 1927. .
Dr Barnett retired in November 1938 and was succeeded by the Rev. David Read. Mr Read became a Chaplain to the Forces at the outbreak of the Second World War, was captured at St Valery, and did not return to Greenbank until 1946. Mr (later Dr) Read’s ministry was distinguished by the establishment of the youth group known as ‘Quest’, which continues today as ‘QII’.
The Rev. Donald Mackay followed Dr Read in 1950 and was minister at Greenbank for 33 years. Under his guidance the membership roll reached a peak of around 1500 in 1964-65. This was achieved by a steady programme of mission and development, and the wide range of Greenbank’s service in both church and community remains a feature of its witness to the present day.
Mr Mackay was succeeded in 1983 by the Rev. Ian Scott, under whose leadership the congregation continued to thrive and to serve the community, both within the parish and beyond. As part of that witness the congregation undertook a Centenary Project, an ambitious programme of redevelopment which added a suite of new halls to the existing buildings and improved the amenity of the whole complex considerably.
Mr Scott retired in 2006 and was succeeded in February 2007 by the Rev. Alison Swindells. Alison was our Minister for 10 years, receiving a call to the Parish of Tarves and Barthol Chapel, Aberdeenshire in early 2017. She took up her new charge in May 2017.
Dr Martin Ritchie was ordained and inducted to Greenbank Parish Church on March 11th 2018.
Rev Dr Martin Ritchie
The building’s plan is a plain cross, orientated – so as to make the best use of the site – towards the west. Among the main features of the church are the stained glass windows, perhaps the finest of which are the three windows by William Wilson: the Parables window, the Nativity window, and the War Memorial window. Much more detail about the history of the church, its building, its fittings, and its people can be found in two books by the late Rev Donald Mackay: Guide to the Stained Glass Windows in Greenbank Parish Church, Edinburgh (1988, 2nd edition 2012 [pdf], copies available), and The Story of Greenbank (1990), available from the Church Office.