Some churches are birthed out of vision, some unfortunately out of division, nevertheless even during the last century’s times of ecclesiastical squabble, visionary men and women of God have played their part in the building of God’s church here in Ness. These brief biographical sketches are dedicated to them.
The year 2009 marked the Centenary of the building of what was then Ness United Free Church.
The church in Cross was opened officially on 23rd September 1909. Rev Donald Martin Macdonald was minister of the Congregation for 38 years, having previously been minister of Cross Free Church. He along with a minority of the Congregation entered into the Union of 1900, which brought the United Free Church into being.
Rev Donald Martin Macdonald (An Domhnallach), pictured left.
The excerpt below is from the Highland News of Friday 2nd October 1909
‘Ness U F church The new church erected for the UF congregation of Ness was opened for public worship on Wednesday of last week. Rev Donald John Martin, Oban officiated, and preached an eloquent and impressive sermon appropriate to the occasion. The weather was very fine, and there was a large attendance, the handsome and commodious church being comfortably filled. The pastor Rev D M Macdonald made an interesting statement anent the new congregational buildings and voiced the thanks of the congregation to the church for so generously coming to their assistance after they had been dispossessed. It is an interesting fact that the pulpit Bible used in the opening ceremony was one presented by the young ladies of the Congregation to the Rev Donald Macrae who was FC minister of Ness immediately after the disruption, and which has now been presented to the congregation by Mr Macrae’s daughter.
The congregation has had an interesting succession of ministers. The Rev John Macrae (Macrath Mor) was licenced by the Presbytery of Lewis, and ordained and inducted minister of Ness in 1833, where he laboured successfully for six years. In 1839 he was translated to Knockbain. He was succeeded in Ness by the Rev John Finlayson. In September 1843 Mr Finlayson was translated to Bracadale in Skye.
On 1st November 1843 calls from Cross and Barvas were presented to the Rev Donald Macrae probationer, and he accepted the call to Cross. Mr Macrae died in the 15th November 1876. In September 1877 the Presbytery met to moderate in a call to the Rev G L Campbell, Glasgow, but although the call was signed by over 400 persons the matter proceeded no further. In June 1878 the Presbytery again moderated a call to the Rev Archibald Beaton Coigach, but although the call was largely signed it was reported in August of the same year that the Presbytery of Lochcarron had declined to translate Mr Beaton .
In February 1879 a petition to the General Assembly signed by 1328 members and adherents, was laid on the table of the Presbytery praying the Assembly to give permission to the Presbytery to licence and ordain as minister of Ness Mr Duncan Macbeath Missionary. In May 1879 the Assembly granted the prayer of the petition, and on the 4th September 1879 Mr Macbeath after examination was licenced by the Presbytery. On 23rd September the call to Mr Macbeath was laid on the table of Presbytery signed by 1375 members and adherents. At that meeting of Presbytery Mr Macbeath accepted the call, and on the 9th October he was ordained, the Rev Duncan Morrison Uig officiating on the occasion and preaching from Psalm 68:18. On the 12th anniversary of his ordination on 9th October 1891 Mr Macbeath died.
In December 1892, the Presbytery met to moderate in a call, but a letter had been received by the moderator of Session from the Rev Dugald Matheson Tarbat, requesting that no steps be taken as regards a call to him, and it was agreed to comply with this request. Afterwards the Rev Murdo Macqueen was elected, but he could not see his way to accept a call. But in 1893 the congregation were successful in calling their present minister, the Rev Donald M Macdonald M.A. who had calmly, bravely and triumphantly weathered many a furious storm’.