150th year brings prestige in Glasgow

A choral program by members of five stakes, participating in Glasgow's prestigious European Year of Culture 1990, illustrates the maturity of the Church in Scotland.

Alexander Cumming of Glasgow, a regional representative, said the program for members and the public became "our famous hour; we were in the public eye."The performance – which drew a standing ovation – was a fitting celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Glasgow Branch, founded Aug. 8, 1840, said Elder Cumming.

Glasgow, an industrial city of some 350,000 people in the 1840s, later became headquarters of the largest conference in Scotland. However, the migration to Great Salt Lake took its toll, depleting membership.

In more modern times, just five branches existed in Scotland when Elder Cumming joined the Church in 1955. "Now we have in excess of 50 branches and wards," he said. "That's a big growth. We've seen a lot of new buildings in all the major towns."

Today, more than 14,000 members live in Scotland, some 5,000 more than joined the Church during the entire 19th century. Of those, about 3,000 live in the greater Glasgow area, more than were ever in the Glasgow Conference during the early Church.

Throughout 1990, Glasgow was the designated city of culture for all of Europe.

During the year, a new concert hall was built to replace the St. Andrews Concert Hall where the Glasgow Stake, Scotland's first stake, was created by President David O. McKay in 1962. The St. Andrews concert hall was destroyed by a fire in 1963.

The city hosted international ballet, symphonies and art exhibits, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Bolshoi Ballet and Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Also hosted were touring exhibits ranging from the works of such artists as Vincent Van Gogh to Henry Moore.

The Oct. 21 choral performance by Church members was included among the city's cultural events. The performance was chaired by Pres. David Larking of the Glasgow Stake.

Elder Cumming said more than 1,100 members and their friends attended the program at City Halls. A 120-voice choir from Scotland's five stakes sang under the direction of Ralph Jamieson, a music professor in Dundee, assisted by Roberta Munro.

The singers were accompanied by a 60-piece, semi-professional orchestra from Dundee, made up of non-LDS musicians.

They performed numbers from opera, anthems, sacred songs, and Scottish folk classics. The final number was "The Spirit of God."

One non-member who attended was a local broadcaster, named Peter Mallan. He later mentioned the performance on his radio program, related Elder Cumming. Another non-member commented, "We would not have missed the concert for anything."

Also during the year, a group from Ricks College performed in the city's historic George Square, and exchanged gifts with local dignitaries.

Bishop Albert Roy of the Glasgow Ward said the year of culture went very well. "This has been a prestigious year for Glasgow," he said. "Members have been encouraged to take part."