The History of Overton Church
Chapter 2: The First Ministry (1828-1836)
In 1824, 27 members and 70 adherents petitioned the Presbytery to be formed into a separate congregation.
It is recorded in McKelvies Annuls and Statistics of the UP Church that “they met in the workshop of Mr Robert Wilson, wright, in West Kilbride, till, in 1828, when they took possession of the place of worship they had built for themselves”.
Stipend having been promised of £80 and a house, Mr Mather was called and settled that year.
Thus it was the new congregation was set on its way. Its members were few, village people not greatly endowed with this world’s goods: tradesmen and farmers, weavers and fishermen, men and women whose faith was simple, deeply held and Bible-based, loyal to its Calvinistic standards.
The Church building was on a site in Meadowfoot Road, where a modern bungalow now stands beside the present manse. It was a plain, square building, without any ornamentation, built probably by voluntary labour. It is described in the Statistical Account by the Rev. Robert Findlay, parish minister from 1832 to 1843, as “a very commodious place of worship, and having accommodation for 434 sitters”.
It is interesting to record that in these early days the Church Officer and Precentor was one William Gemmill, ancestor of some present day members.
Mr Mather’s ministry lasted only 8 years, for in February 1836 he demitted the charge.
During his ministry the congregation had increased in number and there were now 100 communicants. It seemed to be a happy ministry, for it was recorded at his going that they parted with “one who had commended himself in an eminent degree to the affections of the people of his charge”.
But Mr Mather as the years had passed found himself out of sympathy with Presbyterian procedures. He adopted independent views of Church government and joined the Evangelical Union, becoming the first minister of the E.U. Congregational Church at Ardrossan. Afterwards he became the Editor of the “Christian News”, the publication of that denomination.