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St Andrew’s Jerusalem was built as a memorial to Scottish soldiers who fell fighting in this region during World War I.  The foundation stone was laid in 1927 and the church was opened in 1930, thus reinforcing the Church of Scotland’s strong connection with Jerusalem. Since its inception The Scots Memorial Church has remained a focus for Scots, as well as international visitors, to the Holy Land, through a century of historical turbulence.  St Andrew’s Tiberias was originally the focus of the Medical Mission on the Sea of Galilee.  The two congregations were united in 2018 and together offer a sanctuary of comfort and peace.

The Friends of St Andrew’s Jerusalem & Tiberias ensure that support does not diminish, scholarships continue to be provided and projects backed by the church are sustained.

Foundation stone

History of the churches

St Andrew’s Scots Memorial Church, Jerusalem

 St Andrew's Scot's Memorial Church would not exist today, beautifully overlooking Jerusalem's Old City, without the context of World War 1 and the Palestine Campaign. The inspiration of one man, Ninian Hill, led to a joint venture of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland.  The story of St Andrew’s Jerusalem starts with Ninian’s intervention at an Edinburgh Presbytery meeting on the 12th December, 1917, two days after General Allenby entered Jerusalem.  He suggested "that to celebrate the occasion funds should be raised to build and endow a Scots Kirk of St Andrew, the Apostle, in the Holy Land".

 

This simple concept quickly became complicated and challenging: over ten years of fundraising; five years to find a site; entering into build contracts without adequate funding; original plans for its use dashed; and finally, sitting in the middle of no-mans-land surviving the 1948 Israeli War of Independence and the Six Day War, plans changing from hospital to Guesthouse to hotel.

 

Today, with its two sister centres in Tiberias and Jaffa, St Andrew's Jerusalem, plays a pivotal role in the Church of Scotland's Ministry of Hospitality and Partnership.

 

Read the full story in "Faith Rewarded" by Walter Dunlop.

St Andrew's, Tiberias

In 1885, David Watt Torrance, a 23-year-old surgeon from Airdrie, arrived in Tiberias to set up a "Mission to the Jews" under the auspices of the United Free Church of Scotland. Within the context of a "Medical Mission" Torrance underpinned his work with his life's commitment to the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. He held weekly Services in Arabic and English within the Hospital facilities until, around 1930, the central focus of worship moved from the Hospital to the current church building. It is believed that this building was constructed in the 1890s with the upper floor providing classrooms for a Girls' School and, later, a Boys' School. 

What is now the Sanctuary was used at that time as storage facilities for the school and the Hospital. In 1986 the building began to show signs of age, together with the effect of local earthquake tremors, and was, in time, in real danger of collapse. Major structural work with considerable refurbishment throughout the building was undertaken to bring it to the condition it is in today. There is a small but lively local Congregation and numbers worshipping each Sunday vary depending on tourist groups visiting the area. The substantial upper floor has, variously, been used as the Manse, accommodation for Volunteers and classrooms for children from the local Messianic Jewish Community.

The Upper Rooms’ are currently being repurposed as accommodation with shared toilet/shower facilities. A twin room is available for scholars and guests at a cost of 300 NIS per night per person which includes all meals at the staff restaurant and housekeeping. Other rooms are currently occupied by hotel staff. As a volunteer programme develops this will change.

 

Two major developments are planned in Tiberias. The first is the development of the church garden as a space for sanctuary and reflection. It is hoped to incorporate a labyrinth and prayer areas and to attract pilgrim groups to use the tranquil space as part of their reflection on their experience as pilgrims in the land of the Holy One.

 

The second is the redevelopment of the Museum and Visitors’ Centre at the hotel to update information and engage visitors in the continuing story of Christian presence through the Church of Scotland in the Holy Land.

Sanctuary Chairs

In 1928, by way of fundraising, congregations from all over the world, regiments, and various groups each donated £10 to have their name inscribed on a bronze plaque and fixed to the back of a Sanctuary chair.  The majority of these chairs are still in use today.

To discover the original donors of chairs, along with wall plaques, please click here.

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Scots Hotel, Tiberias

The Scots Hotel was opened as a hospital in 1878, by Dr David Torrance. Transitioning to a Maternity Hospital, and then a hospice for pilgrims, the original ethos of offering Christian hospitality to all still stands.

St Andrew's Scots House Hotel

St Andrews Church and Hospice, once known as The Guesthouse, and now St Andrew’s Scots House Hotel was opened, along with the Church, in 1930.  It operated only occasionally between 1948 and 1967; since then the building has remained a popular temporary home for the sizeable Scottish population who live and travel to Jerusalem.

Tabeetha School, Jaffa

Since 1863 Tabeetha, one of only two Church of Scotland schools in the world, has provided an education for all faiths and nationalities, valuing individual differences and learning styles. 

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