CHURCH & HISTORY
Amongst those who came to Sri Lanka two hundred years ago to seek their fortunes, in what was then Ceylon, was a large community of tea planters. These left their mark in the names of some of the present day plantations in the Hill Country – for example, Edinburgh, Strathdon and Invergordon. They also left their church buildings in Kandy, Haputale and Colombo. These were not missionary endeavours but spiritual “homes away from home” for Scottish Presbyterians.
Worship at St. Andrew’s Scots Kirk, in Princes Street, Fort, Colombo, began on 21st October, 1842. It was a member congregation of the Presbytery of Ceylon, part of the Church of Scotland, hence the name “Scots Kirk”. The congregation enjoyed good relations with its Presbyterian brothers and sisters in the Dutch Reformed Churches of the city. The church experienced good times of growth and had to endure some difficult times especially when one minister had departed and another was still to make the arduous sea journey out from Scotland.
Under the ministry of Alexander Dunn, the church removed to its new premises at 73, Galle Road, Colpetty in 1906. The site at Fort was required for other purposes and the city was beginning to spread south through Colpetty.
After Independence was granted to Ceylon in 1948, the Scottish community diminished. Through the second half of the Twentieth Century, St. Andrew’s endeavoured a new ministry. Although still a congregation of the Church of Scotland, it has become “International – Interdenominational – and open to all”.
In 2007 it became a “sanctioned charge”, that is a full member, of the Presbytery of Europe and an associate member of the local Presbytery of Lanka.
Today, more than half the congregation is from Asia with the half from the other four continents of the world. A Pastoral Care List, rather than a Membership Roll, is maintained because so many of those attending are “sojourners” in Sri Lanka, here for the season of a contract with government, embassies, high commissions, the United Nations, other non-governmental organisations and a variety of commercial companies.
In 2013, for the first time in its history, St Andrew’s had a Nominating Committee with full powers to select and recommend a Sole Nominee to become the next minister.