St. Andrew’s Kirk is a religious place of worship located along the Avenue of the Republic in Georgetown, Guyana, South America. The building, which is located opposite the Georgetown’s Magistrate Court is said to be one of the oldest wooden buildings in Guyana, South America. The St. Andrew’s Kirk building also serves as a landmark in Guyana.
The St. Andrew’s Kirk, presently the oldest religious building in Georgetown, Guyana, South America, still in use, was opened in 1818 to meet the religious demands of the growing Scottish population. The construction of the building started since 1811, but as a Dutch Reformed Kerk. The foundation stone was laid on August 12, 1811.
The site was acquired in 1810 as a gift from the government and funding for the Dutch church construction came mainly from public subscription. Unfortunately, financial difficulties were encountered and the unfinished building was sold on May 4, 1813 to two members of the Dutch Consistory. Nothing was done to have it completed, and the frame was left to the weather for a few years.
Meanwhile, the Scotsmen in Demerara were determined in finding a place to worship as there was no such establishment to meet their religious needs at the time. Hereafter, the Dutch proprietors of St. Andrew’s offered the Scottish community half their right and title to the church on the agreement that the building be completed by joint expense and become property of both the Dutch and the Scottish. The Scotsmen forming themselves into a committee of management under the leadership of Lachlan Cuming, met the Dutch to further discuss the matter. During the meeting, an initial subscription of 1000 British Pounds was collected. Within the next few weeks, the amount rose to nearly 3000 British Pounds and later at a final total of 4,200 British Pounds.
The Dutch Reformed Kerk was completed and declared opened by Reverend Archibald Browne on September 27, 1818. Following its opening, the Dutch remained co-users of the building for many years afterwards, but their numbers began waning, some joining the Scottish congregation. Eventually, in April 1871, the Scottish Minister, Reverend Thomas Slater, reported that the Sacramental Service of the Dutch Reformed Kerk was handed over to him, making St. Andrew’s Presbyterian sole owner of the building. It was after this change in ownership that the church was later renamed “St. Andrew’s Kirk.” Originally, St. Andrews was planned along the lines of the Romanesque Revival rather than the Gothic Revival Architecture we see today. This wooden structure with its stained glass windows, buttresses, and high steeple has graced the landscape for almost two centuries.
Photos by Patrick Carpen, taken around March 2019.