The people of Wick Baptist Church first started meeting in a loft in Kirk Lane in 1806. Twenty years later the church re located to rooms above Bows Baker Shop in the old High Street. Due to continued growth the church moved again, in 1865, to a new building in Union Street, and this is where the fellowship worshipped during most of its lifetime.
However, because of structural faults in this building it was necessary to move again and, in 1997, when the Rev Angus Morrison was pastor, the whole church took what has been described as a huge leap of faith in purchasing the old Central Church of Scotland building in Dempster Street.
This building had been empty since it closed its doors in October 1990, when the congregation of Wick Central Church was united with St Andrew’s Church in Argyll Square to form Pulteneytown and Thrumster Church. After seven years of lying empty the building was in need of costly repairs to the roof and extensive renovation inside. The Baptist Church’s building fund at the time stood at only £12,000. However, within a year the funds had risen to over £135,000.
The congregation of just over 50 members had indeed acted in faith and just over a year after receiving the keys, on June 6, 1998, the newly-refurbished building was dedicated to God by the Rev Bill Slack, president of the Baptist Union of Scotland. Improvements to the building have been ongoing ever since and state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment has been installed recently.
However, the church is about something much more important than the building.
There are now 60 members and, at a time when many churches are in decline, Wick Baptist Church membership has increased. Attendances of up to 100 people, including children, are fairly normal on most Sunday mornings. Since its early days the church has benefited from excellent pastoral care through the ministers that have served there.
The church was born at a time of revival in the North of Scotland. Much of the foundation work for this is credited to two brothers, James and Robert Haldane. God blessed James’s work here in Caithness from 1797 to 1805 but his brother Robert founded The Society for Propagating the Gospel at Home in Edinburgh in 1797.
This evangelistic mission was to touch the whole of Caithness bringing, as it has been described, “one of the greatest revivals the North has ever seen”.
Those who gathered in Kirk Lane 200 years ago were known as Anabaptists due to their belief in adult baptism by full immersion following profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The church still holds these beliefs as a basis for faith.
There were other times of revival to touch Caithness in the church’s history. Perhaps most notably was that of the 1920s when the ministry in singing and preaching of Jock Troupe, of the Salvation Army, saw churches, including Wick Baptist Church, and places like the Braehead and Market Square in Wick, packed out. It cannot be denied that the church as a whole in this country has declined in numbers since those days but many believe there are signs of change.
Methods of outreach have changed much since the days of the Haldane brothers or Jock Troupe. The church nowadays has to adapt and be flexible in its methods of outreach, although not in its message of the Gospel.
Most new converts and members to the church in recent times have come through an Alpha Course. Interested people gather together in homes and enjoy a meal, after which they watch a video and questions pertaining to the meaning of life are, hopefully, answered.
Since 1806, Wick Baptist Church has seen many changes. Buildings have changed, methods of outreach have changed and people have changed. The church is facing change yet again with the arrival of our new pastor Rev Bill ferguson and we trust that the Lord will to pour out his Grace and ensure that this 'Wick' will continue to burn brighter and brighter and show many people the way to Jesus Christ and eternal life