History of St Devenick’s Congregation
The church at Bieldside came into being with the growth of Aberdeen’s suburbs (outwith the city but in the county of Aberdeenshire) towards the end of the nineteenth century. In 1880 and 1881, under the auspices of St Andrew’s Church, Aberdeen, occasional services were held in a loft at Bieldside Farm. In 1883 a wooden church building (previously used and owned by the local Church of Scotland) at Kenfield, near Mannofield, was used for services every Sunday but attendance fell away and services were discontinued in 1886.
On 1 May 1894 a meeting was held in Cults for those interested in obtaining Episcopal church services for the district. This began the move towards the establishment of the congregation of St Devenick’s. The wooden building from Mannofield was handed over as a gift and rebuilt on the site of the present church hall. It opened on Sunday 4 November in 1894. The present permanent church was opened in June 1903 and was initially known as St Devenick’s Mission Church, Bieldside, Cults. The wooden building then served as the church hall until 1969, when the present hall was built.
The congregation has, since the beginning, sought to serve the local communities.
Mission services for the Culter area began in 1911 and continued until 1934. A Sunday School continued for many years after. Milltimber became a mission focus in the early 1970s, when a monthly Family Service and a regular Sunday School were established. After a number of years of successful activity, the Deeside Christian Fellowship Church opened and the Episcopal activities ceased. The neighbouring community of Westhill began to expand from a tiny hamlet to a major new housing development in 1971 and Episcopal services were started there in the following year, meeting first in a shed provided by the developers as a community facility. Subsequently, various primary schools were rented as places of worship as each new one was built. From 1979 the congregation shared a building in Westhill with the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church, and in 2014 they opened their own, purpose built premises. In 1982, St Devenick’s appointed a curate with responsibility for this daughter congregation. The Episcopal congregation of Trinity, Westhill, attained its independence within the diocese in 1986.
St Devenick’s began taking services in the residential and nursing homes in the area over thirty years ago. Similarly rectors have been involved in chaplaincy and teaching in local Primary Schools, a Special School (Pitfodels), and Cults Academy.
St Devenick’s has long been committed to supporting overseas mission work in various parts of the world through the SEC’s Links, CMS, Crosslinks, and other mission agencies. In the early years of this century, several members travelled to India and Sri Lanka to give time and service in practical ways, especially in poor and remote areas: money was also raised to increase the value of such support.
With the coming of the oil industry to Aberdeen in the 1970s, St Devenick’s has benefited, and continues to benefit, from members who have joined us from all over the world. Their presence, gifts and insights have enhanced us as a congregation.
Acknowledgement to St Devenick’s Episcopal Church, Bieldside. A Living Church 1894 to 1994, by Rachel Hart, for some of the above information.