Brief History

The Scots in india

In the year 1707, the independent Kingdom of Scotland united with England. By this political development, the Scots gained access to the East India Company, which was well established about a century ago. Thus, a large number of Scots joined the company as ‘writers’, they were followed by thousands of Scottish traders, engineers, medical doctors, teachers, missionaries and even tea and indigo planters. A considerable number of Scots served in the British army in India as soldiers and officers. A Scottish highlander regiment also served in India. The Scots entered into the civil service in this country. In fact, the first three Governor Generals of British India were Scots.

The Scots being socially and culturally different from the English, and with the Presbyterian background (rather than Episcopal), they felt the need to build a ‘Kirk’ of their own.

Thus was established St. Andrew’s Kirk at Madras in the year 1821

St. Andrew's Church, Bangalore

Around early 1860’s Bangalore had a sizable number of Scottish residents, as well as Scottish soldiers and officers. They too felt the need for a ‘Kirk’ of their own.

Scottish men and women met at Trinity Church on the 22nd November 1863 and St. Andrew’s Church began in their minds. Fortunately for them, Sir General James Hope Grant who hailed from Perthshire, Scotland, was stationed in Madras. He took the initiative to raise funds to a large extent to build a Kirk at Bangalore. He also helped the Scots get suitable land for the proposed Kirk on what is now called Cubbon Road in the Cantonment area of Bangalore.

The foundation stone of St. Andrew’s Church was laid on the 22nd November 1864. The splendid St. Andrew’s Church as it stands today, was opened for public worship on the 22nd November 1866. It was called “Red Kirk” as the external structure was painted red. The church was named after the Scottish Patron, Saint Andrew. The church was consecrated by Rev. Stewart Wright on the 18th of November, 1866. The large Scottish population at a glittering ceremony at Bangalore rejoiced when Lady Grant laid the Foundation Stone for the proposed St. Andrew’s Kirk, on 22nd November 1864. The church was built to accommodate 500 people.

Worship services and ministerial continued, under the Church of Scotland with mostly the Scottish regiments serving in Bangalore. Presbyters were deputed regularly by the Church of Scotland. “It was then known as St. Andrew’s “KIRK”, a westernised church with Scottish customs, classical Scottish square dancing, western music, celebrating St. Andrew’s Day, Burns’ Night and so on. The soldiers would arrive in their colourful kilts, with their skirling bagpipes. The soldiers were allowed their traditional kilts, exempted from British Army dress code. They were called ‘kiltie soldiers’.” Once at the church, each would place their gun in the gun rack provided for them at the entrance and then enter church.

After the complete independence of the Indian Church by the formation of the Church of South India (CSI) in the year 1947, as the influx of regimental soldiers receded with permanent transfers and so on, the congregation members worshipping in the church were eager to find their identify with the Indian main stream of the post-independence churches by affiliating themselves with the Church of South India.

Accordingly, as recorded in the minutes dated 1st February 1959 of the Kirk Session of St. Andrew’s Church, it is found that Bishop N. C Sargant of Mysore visited the Kirk Session in December 1956, and had a dialogue with the members regarding the merger of the church with the CSI, with the assurance that there would be no change in the form of worship and traditions, and eventually, St. Andrew’s Church joined the CSI in September 1959. Rev. P. J. Child, the Presbyter, then known as the ‘Moderator’ of the church, was in charge of the congregation. Subsequent to this, during the tenure of Rev. R. W. Rentoul in the year 1963, the first Pastorate Committee was constituted with six members by election from the total strength of 113 communicant members of the church, at a nominal agreement of one Pastorate Committee for every 20 communicant members plus one nominated member. Four elders of the Kirk Session who had been ordained for life remained as life founder members of the Pastorate Committee. Thus the Administrative Committee of the church, until then known as the ‘Kirk Session of St. Andrew’s Church’, shed its western nomenclature, to be renamed to function as the “Pastorate Committee of St. Andrew’s Church”, and the church gradually became one of the churches of the Karnataka Central Diocese with a Bishop as her head for all administrative hierarchy – different from the Presbyterian discipline, relieved formally from the Colonial and Continental Committee of the Church of Scotland, which was governing four such St. Andrew’s Churches in India at Calcutta (Kolkata), Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai), and including that in Bangalore.

Rev. Robert W. Rentoul, the Presbyter-in-charge of the church had played a prominent role in shaping the destiny of the church. Several revival activities were undertaken during this period, as a Bible Study group, regular Choir practice, reorganisation of Sunday School, the first election of the Pastorate Committee, geographical allocation of duties of P.C members were given district wise, Youth Fellowship, Women’s Fellowship, conspicuous changes in the Order of Worship were undertaken. The period had also seen a radical change in the worship bifurcating the services into Kannada and English with the introduction of worship in local language at the instance of a letter from their Bishop Rt. Rev. N. C Sargent, of course with the firm declaration by the Pastorate Committee that “irrespective of their languages, all who worship here should be members of one congregation of St. Andrew’s with provisions to safeguard the interest of the English speaking minority.

On a later occasion in the year 1967, over a clarification of the same issue, recorded thus in one of its minutes:

“It reaffirms its belief expressed at the start of the services in Kannada in November 1965, that we should remain one Pastorate with the same minister and Pastorate Committee for the whole pastorate and that we should act as one congregation in all things. The provisions of worship in two languages separately did not mean that we were two congregations in any respect other than for the purpose of statistics and representations. The election would thus be held jointly, with all voters, voting for all candidates”.

St. Andrew’s Church has been standing tall as the symbol of the spirit of the people, an edifice of character of strong Christian faith and a landmark in the city. Over 158 years have passed since the Scottish Regiment began worshipping in this monumental church and now the community has grown to encompass a large multi-denominational St. Andrew’s family, bearing a testimony to the grace of God and the faith of all its members, as it has seamlessly integrated a multilingual Indian population into its fold. Grand celebration continued through the year with many activities beyond the church. A special Worship Service was held on Saturday, 29th November, 2014 to Celebrate St. Andrew’s Day. The Madras Sappers band played to enthral the gathering during dinner.

Thereafter many new Ministries were added, giving the growing congregation the opportunity to serve the Lord with gladness. Some of the new ministries that were added are Care for the Elderly, Young Couples Fellowship, Education and Professional Networking Committee, expanding beyond the erstwhile Scholarship committee, and Media and Communication committee, which played a huge role during the Covid lockdown from March 2021 to early 2022. Worship Services went on as usual during the lockdown period, with the services being telecast online. This practice still continues and worship services are watched by people across the globe.

St. Andrew’s church is known for its restoration projects. The church interiors and structure are a testament to this fact. The 150 year old Parish hall was restored and rededicated on the 2nd of October 2022, marking 150 years since it was built as St. Andrew’s Girl’s School, which was started in January 1878. Today all the ministries of the church use the Parish Hall and all the rooms within for meetings and various activities.

The church with its long period of history for nearly one a half century presents to us today a look of long and deep-rooted tradition with its community committed to the prime goal of worship as one congregation in unity ever through, with more emphasis on outreach work, mission and evangelism through social activity in the latter years to project the image of Christ through the friendly interaction with the present context of the society around, ever heralding its faith and bearing witness to: “Thy hand O God has guided Thy flock from age to age”

St. Andrew’s Church is part of the Church of South India, Karnataka Central Diocese. For More information about the Diocese, click on –

Succession List of Presbyters-in-charge

Rev. Stewart Wright 1864 – 1866
Rev. W. A. Liston 1868, 1874 – 1979
Rev. Alexander Walker 1868 – 1971, 1872, 1874 – 1877
Rev. A. Clifford Bell 1871 – 1874
Rev. James Jollie 1879 – 1881, 1884 – 1887
Rev. John D. Morrison 1881 – 1884
Rev. James N. Ogilvie 1887 – 1890, 1892 -1893, 1894, 1895 – 1897 – 1898
Rev. Robert H. Stevenson 1890 – 1892, 1893 – 1894, 1901, 1904
Rev. T. Scott 1899
Rev. John Heron 1899 – 1901, 1904 – 1907, 1913 – 1914
Rev. A. W. Mackenzie 1906 – 1907
Rev. J. D. Mitchell 1908 – 1911
Rev. J. G. Philip 1911
Rev. J. H. H. Macniel 1920 – 1923
Rev. D. F. Mackenzie 1923 – 1925, 1928 – 1930
Rev. G. C. Macpherson 1925 – 1926
Rev. G. M. D. Short 1926 – 1928, 1931 – 1935
Rev. S. W. Cameron 1930 – 1931
Rev. Dr. A. Moffat 1933
Rev. K. Mackintosh 1935 – 1936
Rev. J. W. Ingram 1935 – 1936
Rev. James P. Reid 1936 – 1939
Rev. L. Mac Edward 1939 – 1940
Rev. R. W. Matheson 1942 – 1946
Rev. G. Buchanan 1946 – 1947
Rev. A. J. Mac Donald 1947
Rev. Brady 1947
Rev. R. E. Lee 1947 – 1949
Rev. Lewi J. Thomas 1950 – 1955
Rev. Dr. A McLeish 1955 – 1958
Rev. Dr. Henry Sedlo 1955 – 1958, 1959
Rev. P. J. Child 1959
Rev. W. Park Rankin 1960 – 1961
Rev. David Mackie 1961 – 1963
Rev. R. W. Rentoul 1963 – 1969
Rev. J. Mullins 1969 – 1971
Rev. R. G. Heri 1969 – 1975
Rev. S. A. Salins 1975 – 1981
Rev. Dr. K. C. Abraham 1975 – 1976
Rev. Benjamin Dorairaj 1981 – 1987
Rev. S. Vasanthakumar 1987 – 1993
Rev. Jessie Ranjan 1993 – 1998
Rev. John Wesley Ambler 1998 – 2003
Rev. M. B. Kotian 2003 – 2008
Rev. Prem Mitra 2008 – 2013
Rev. Sanjay Samuel Ayer 2013 – 2015
Rev. Christy Rajkumar 2015 – 2015
Rev. Satish Timothy Paul 2015 – 2016
Rev. Jessie Ranjan 2016 – 2019
Rev. Dr. Dexter S. Maben 2019 – till date

Scottish Presbyters

(Only Available Photographs)

Indian Presbyters

You can reach the Presbyter of St. Andrew’s Church for prayer.