Pastor John Harper drowned with 1500 others when the RMS Titanic sank in the early hours of 15 April 1912. He had founded the Baptist Church in the Plantation district of Glasgow where he ministered for 13 years. During that time, his wife Annie died and was buried in Craigton Cemetery where a monument was erected to her. John left Glasgow to lead a church in London. A renowned preacher, he was on his way with his six year old daughter Nana to the Moody Church in Chicago for a second visit as a guest speaker when the tragedy happened. The state-of-the-art ship was holed by an iceberg and sank within hours. Pastor John gave his life jacket to another man who was one of the few rescued from the icy waters. His name and his sacrifice were recorded on his wife’s headstone.
When the Plantation church was rebuilt many years later, it was named the Harper Memorial Baptist Church and was opened by Nana Harper. Quietly attending the memorial service in Craigton and laying their own flowers at the monument which tells the tragic story, were John Harper’s grand-daughter, Dr Mary Gurling, her sons Stephen and Paul and her nephew, Andrew Pont. Said Stephen: ‘We are standing on the shoulders of giants through this inspiring legacy.’
The memorial and re-dedication service was organised by the Harper Memorial Baptist Church as one of several events during their Titanic commemorative weekend, 100 years after the terrible disaster.
The service was conducted by preacher Craig Dyer who introduced Dr Erwin W. Lutzer who has been pastor for 32 years at the Moody Church in Chicago where John Harper was going. In his epilogue Dr Lutzer said: “When I became a Pastor there, you walked down the hall to the John Harper meeting room.” In his passionate witness he explained that there was compelling evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the death. “Jesus was the forerunner. But you can’t get into Heaven with your physical body. The spirit can be released through faith, alone, in Jesus Christ. John Harper believed that and was able to say as the ship sank – ‘I’m not going down; I’m going up (to Heaven)’ ”
Among the guests of honour were Bailie Iris Gibson who brought greetings from the Lord Provost and said the City had been pleased to refurbish the lettering on the memorial stone in Craigton. ‘Pastor John Harper’s story deserves to be better known,’ she said. Also speaking was Councillor Alistair Watson who told how he’d grown up in the district, played in the cemetery and knew John Harper’s story. ‘It is humbling to know of his remarkable self-sacrifice,’ said Councillor Watson. ‘He will feature in a booklet detailing the heritage trail through Craigton Cemetery. That is due to be printed soon and will tell the story to an even bigger audience.’ Also present were Councillor Stephen Dornan and Rebecca Lutzer, Dr Lutzer’s wife. MSP John Mason, who is an active member of the Baptist Church in Easterhouse, attended as a practising Christian and supportive church member and preferred to stand in the crowd.
Hymns and prayers were offered in thanks and tribute to John Harper and his sacrifice.
In the crowd were two particularly dedicated students of the Titanic. Andrew Learmonth, dressed in respectful white shirt and black tie, said he has been ‘obsessed’ by the disaster and all the attendant details since childhood. ‘My flat in Glasgow is like a Titanic Museum,’ he admitted. He is a member of the Titanic Historic Society, the British Titanic Society and the Ulster Historic Society – the ship was built in Belfast where a new museum has been opened to promote the fact. He recently visited Southampton to see the vessel which left to make the commemorative voyage of the fated Titanic.
Giving out sheets telling the story of John Harper and showing a dramatic image drawn at the time, was Brian Brodie, a fire officer at Govan fire station. He pointed out that the Titanic was correctly referred to as RMS Titanic. ‘That stands for Royal Mail Ship, Titanic,’ explained the former marine engineer. ‘It shouldn’t be SS – sailing ship – Titanic as engraved on the memorial stone.’ Enthusiastically, he walks visitors through Craigton Cemetery to tell them John Harper’s story, show them the monument and visit other interesting grave stones with their own fascinating stories.
The Harper Memorial Church’s programme continues through Sunday 15 April 2012 with a morning service conducted by Jim Wylie, soloist Gillian Strang and guest speaker Dr Lutzer of Moody Church, Chicago. In the evening, Walter Whitelaw offers the welcome for the celebration with Dr Lutzer preaching and the Govan Salvation Army Band playing.
On Friday 13 April, the Glasgow congregation held a holiday club for schoolchildren and a rock concert in the evening for young people. Both events were well attended and have strengthened the Church’s outreach, especially in the local communities around Kinning Park and Plantation off Paisley Road West.
Harper Memorial Baptist Church in Kinning Park is buoyed up for a Titanic weekend starting Friday 13 April 2012. One of the 1500 people lost when the Titanic sank 100 years ago, was John Harper who had been a minister of the church in Glasgow. He was on his way to be a guest preacher in Chicago at the Moody Church. And the current preacher in that American church – Dr Erwin W. Lutzer – will be the guest speaker in Glasgow during the commemorative events and services.
To recognise John Harper’s sacrifice – he gave his life vest to another man – the congregation has planned a wide variety of events to which they invite anyone along.
Friday 13 April started with a school children’s holiday club. That evening a Christian rock band – Superhero – were scheduled to play their only UK gig. They’ve completed a European tour and are about to go on tour in the United States. That event is the only one where a door entry charge applies (£3)
On Saturday 14 – a commemorative service and re-dedication will be held in Craigton Cemetery, Cardonald at 2.30pm. There John Harper’s wife was buried and her headstone has details of his subsequent death when the Titanic sank after being holed by an iceberg on its maiden voyage to America. Dr Lutzer will conduct a service at the graveside and local Councillors Alistair Watson and Iris Gibson are expected to attend.
That evening – the 100th year to the date of the sinking of the Titanic – a service of praise will be held in the church which is located off Paisley Road West in the midst of a complex of modern houses. Among the contributions will be the choir ‘Father’s Song.’
Sunday services, morning and evening, will be conducted by Dr Lutzer with communion being celebrated in the morning and the Govan Salvation Army Band playing in the evening.
It is almost 100 years since the Titanic sank with the loss of more than 1500 people. Glasgow has its own direct link to the Titanic through a church off Paisley Road West.
Called the Harper Memorial Baptist church, it is named after a Scottish preacher called John Harper who was aboard the Titanic when it was holed by an iceberg on 14 April 1912.
And next month when many Titanic events are scheduled to remember the tragedy, the congregation will hold a Titanic Weekend.
Starting on Friday 13 to Sunday 15 April they aim to let a wider audience know that the faith of the man whose name was given to the building, is still valid for people today.
Said church Deacon Gordon Webster: ‘We wanted to make use of the fact that most people know about the Titanic to tell the story of John Harper and win people for the Lord.’
A widower, John Harper was travelling with his niece and his six-year-old daughter to be a guest speaker at the Moody church of Chicago for a second season. One of the survivors of the disaster told how John Harper asked him as the ship was sinking: ‘Has your soul been saved?’ When the man said ‘no’ John took off his own life vest and gave it to him.
Born in Houston, John Harper became a preacher at an early age. When he was appointed to a congregation in Glasgow it had 25 members. When he left it for a post in London in the early 1900s, the church had its own purpose built ‘tin kirk’ in the Plantation district of the city which could seat 1000. It was named after John Harper when a new building was opened in 1921 by his daughter, Nan Harper who survived the disaster.
John’s wife had died a week after their daughter had been born. She was buried in Craigton cemetery. The details of John’s heroic death were added to her grave stone soon after the Titanic disaster. For the church’s Titanic Weekend a memorial and rededication service will be held at the cemetery in Cardonald at 2.30pm on Saturday 14 April. Bailie Iris Gibson and Councillor Alistair Watson are expected to attend.
That evening – 100 years to the day, after the disaster – Dr Erwin W. Lutzer of the Chicago Moody Church, will preach in the Harper Memorial Baptist church in Glasgow at 7.30pm. His church in Chicago was the one that John Harper was travelling to. John had been invited back to preach because of the success of his first visit. Some of the meeting rooms in the Chicago church are dedicated to him. A play about John Harper will be performed in Glasgow on Saturday 14 April, and there will be music by Father’s Song.
Dr Lutzer will also speak at the Sunday 15 April morning service when communion will be celebrated and again in the evening when music will be provided by the Govan Salvation Army Band.
There will be a holiday club for primary school children on Friday 13 April. The local Lorne Park Primary School has already studied the Titanic story and some of their work will be on display in the church during the weekend. On the Friday evening a Christian rock band ‘Superhero’ will perform for the teens, twenties and music minded people. This is the only Scottish date for the band which is on tour in Europe currently and will be touring the United States following the Titanic weekend events.
‘This is a big step for us to have a rock group – they’ll be the first we’ve had. But we think we’re well prepared,’ said Deacon Webster. He added: ‘The whole process of planning this weekend has been amazing. It is a wonderful experience for the team of 13 volunteers from the church who have organised it. We’ve been taken aback at the world wide interest with people emailing from abroad asking to book seats.’ The church can seat 600 people and has a hall for an additional 100 where a video link will enable them to share in the proceedings. Leaflets have been distributed throughout the local community and visitors to the city that weekend will also be invited specially. For further details see the website: www.harpermemorial.net For tickets for the rock concert email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call GLO Bookshop, Motherwell: 01698 275343
image copyright : ©Graeme Hewitson Eikon Bible Art.
Labour councillors were called ‘two-faced sods’ by citizens in the public gallery at today’s full Council Meeting. Three women were ejected as they shouted at the Councillors who had passed a resolution which served the death knell on the Accord Centre in Dalmarnock.
All are mothers of adult children with cerebral palsy, autism and similar learning disabilities. Along with almost 50 other families, they use the Accord Centre as a day centre and social meeting place.
But Glasgow City Council is in the process of closing it as the space is needed for a car park for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Users have been fighting for months to get the Council to keep its promised of a ‘like for like’ centre to replace the Accord.
A proposal by the SNP councillors for a ‘replacement facility which meets users’ agreed requirements,’ and amended by the Green Party councillors; was defeated.
Instead, the current administration’s plan that Accord users are dispersed to the Bambury Centre in Camlachie, and the Riddrie Day Centre, was passed.
But as Cheryl McArthur said: ‘I’d love to go to the Riddrie Day Centre. It is very nice. But they’ve told me I can’t go because it is full.’
When the vote was taken,
the mothers in the public gallery couldn’t contain their anger.
Said Mary McArthur: ‘I feel so angry they couldn’t get their facts right. One councillor said the Banbury was only six years old. It is nearer 16 years old and in one of the worst crime spots in the city. The centre is not a safe place for vulnerable people like our sons and daughters to go to.’
George (43) is the son of Maureen Crone and was sitting beside her in the tickets only public gallery. ‘A man grabbed my Mum by the arm. I’m not happy about that,’ he said. Mum Maureen added: ‘He has a very keen sense of what is right and fair. He sees this as assault.’ For herself she said: ‘The situation is terrible. The lies that were told made me angry. And I had to speak out, but I was threatened that if I didn’t go out quietly with the attendant they’d get the police to me.’
The issue cannot be raised again in the Council Chamber for six months according to the rules of the house.
Afterwards another of the Accord users said: ‘This is a disgrace. But the quicker there is an election the better, and we can get all the Labour Councillors out.’
Labour Councillor Alistair Watson who spoke in favour of his party’s proposal as ‘an improvement’ and a ‘further step towards the modernisation of day services,’ said: ‘Users should be thankful they are being moved to the Banbury which has improved services.’ Labour Councillor George Redmond of Calton, said: ‘we need to work with users to bring about a satisfactory solution.’ Green Party Councillors supported the SNP’s motion which was defeated. But since Labour hold 47 seats and SNP 19, that was always going to be the only outcome.
Accord Centre families are already looking for people to stand against the Labour Party Councillors they consider have let them down badly on this fundamental service.
Following the publication of this story on the website: www.localnewsglasgow , Glasgow City Council asked for detailed information about the Accord to be published. We are happy to do so:
Glasgow City Council told this website that the Accord Centre is closing as part of the Learning Disabilities Service’s day service reform. ‘This makes it very clear that the number of day centres in the city for people with learning disabilities would be reduced from eight to five,’ said a spokesman. ‘Two other centres have already shut down and the Accord Centre will be third to close. This is entirely in keeping with a plan that pre-dates Glasgow securing the Commonwealth Games in November 2007.’
He added: ‘It is also the case that the centre is closing because it is in poor physical condition and serious health and safety concerns have been raised in relation to the use of the centre. In other words – the Accord Centre would have been a candidate for closure in any event.
‘It is fully accepted that the site of the Accord Centre will be used to support the Athlete’s village during the 2014 games. However, it must be stressed that changes at the Accord are being driven by reforms to the Learning Disability Service first and foremost. It should also be noted that the site in question will eventually be used for a mix of social and private housing.’
This website must obtain special permission to visit the Accord Centre and has been told that no unauthorised visit by the media is permitted.
Govan Road marks the dividing line between Glasgow Southside and Glasgow Pollok for the Scottish Parliament constituencies. And on Saturday 16 April it saw the SNP on one side of the road and the Labour Party on the other.
While the Labour Party had a stall and leaflets and loads of red ballons on the new Govan Cross Public Square, the SNP had star of screen and stage, Elaine C. Smith marching shoulder to shoulder with Nicola Sturgeon who aims to retain her seat in Glasgow Southside.
Said Elaine, who switched from Labour some years ago: ‘The question is – who will represent Scotland best? Who will fight Scotland’s corner? I believe it is the SNP and I’ve supported Alex Salmond for several years. He gave me advice on how to approach people when out canvassing. Believe it or not, speaking face to face with strangers is quite nerve-wracking for me because I’m used to facing an audience who are sitting in the dark and at a distance! So Alex’ advice was – talk about anything other than politics. Let that person raise the subject that is on their mind and then address it.’
Nicola, who was fresh from launching the Party’s manifesto, glossed over the fact that the spot for the photo opportunity included a Subway sandwich shop in the background. It was into another branch of that franchise that the Labour leader Iain Gray rushed when he tried to avoid a group of Citizens United Against the Cuts campaigners who wanted to speak to him.
But in Govan the sandwich shop was shutter and across the road the Labour Party team, led by Johann Lamont who is fighting to retain her Glasgow Pollok seat, was out in force. Councillors Alistair Watson and Jahangir Hanif were there and Councillor Stephen Curran who is standing against Nicola Sturgeon, had already been to Govan and gone on to Pollokshaws in his campaign trail.
Carefully ignoring each other, the two party teams lobbied passersby, especially those heading for the busy Saturday market at the Water Row side of Govan Cross. The votes cast on Thursday 5 May will finally show how many people have crossed the road, politically.
The five regeneration agencies in Glasgow – tasked to get people ‘job ready’ – made 200 staff redundant at the end of March. Employees had to volunteer for a severance package. But key workers will not be allowed to go.
Because funding from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Enterprise Agency has been withdrawn, the five agencies are merging into one body funded solely by Glasgow City Council.
From Friday 1 April, the new single body – Glasgow Regeneration Agency (GRA) – will employ a total of around 600 people compared to 800 over the five previous bodies.
Instead of headquarters in Gorbals, Govan, Springburn, Drumchapel and Easterhouse, a central headquarters will be established at 112 Ingram Street. Each of the current five areas will have a local ‘hub’ which has still to be identified from their local properties portfolio. All the companies are limited by guarantee and registered charities.
Said Councillor Alistair Watson: ‘We are determined to ensure local delivery of services is maintained. We do not have the money to sustain five agencies but the local service delivery has been proven to work.’ He said property that was surplus to requirements, would be sold and leases would be evaluated to establish what was cost effective to retain or to buy out.
Behind the scenes at the five agencies, bitter tears are being shed. Said one insider: ‘This has been a horrendous process. There has been no information forthcoming. Everything is totally outwith local control.’
In another agency an employee said: ‘I don’t know whether to take the package or not. Nothing is clear and I certainly don’t know if I’ll be offered a job in the new set-up.’
At a third establishment, a staffer declared: ‘I’m going. It is sad to see such good teams being dismantled.’
A transition team has been working on the new single body under the leadership of Calum Graham who was Chief Executive Officer of Glasgow West Regeneration Agency. He is intrim Chief Executive of the new agency.
Working in Ingram Street, the brain stormers have to devise a strategy to maintain front line services from April 1 when the new financial year starts.
A spokesman for the team said: ‘This merger into one body will mean that, in the challenging financial environment, we are in a better position to maximise the resources we will have available to continue the fantastic front-line work of the regeneration agency staff. It is hoped that with the large numbers indicating an interest in leaving voluntarily, compulsory redundancies will be minimised. Service delivery will remain in the most disadvantaged communities across Glasgow.’
One of the key outcomes of the merger will be a reduction in senior management, back office and administrative staff.
The Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) had to approve the dismantling of each of the five charities and the formation of one to incorporate the work of all.