Since the early 1980’s the congregations of Paisley High, St. John’s and Orr Square Churches of Scotland along with the Paisley Congregational Church had worked together in the Wynd Centre – an ecumenical Church Outreach Centre. In 1987 Congregations, Kirk Sessions and Deacons Court of these Churches decided to bring together representatives in a Joint Strategy Committee to consider the ways in which the Churches might be better co-ordinated and be more effective, and the Congregations better able to serve the community in which they were placed.
It was not long into that process when the various benefits of coming together were recognised and the Joint Strategy Committee began its work of investigating, discussing and planning the strategy and structure for an ecumenical Church in the centre of Paisley.
In February 1990 he proposed Basis and Plan of Union was published, copies being distributed to every household within each Congregation and Congregational meetings organised so that everyone could be fully informed before a decision was taken.
When that decision was taken later in the year, the Basis and Plan of Union was overwhelmingly accepted in the congregations of Paisley High and St. John’s Churches of Scotland and Paisley Congregational Church, but was rejected by Orr Square Church of Scotland.
The three remaining Churches continued in the Joint Strategy Committee and at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May 1991, the Assembly gave its unanimous blessing to the Basis and Plan of Union. In September 1991 Oakshaw Trinity Church – an amalgamation of Paisley High Kirk, St. John’s Church of Scotland and Paisley Congregational Church – was born and the Congregations began the process of coming together as one and helping to mould together three different traditions.
Following the retirement of the Orr Square Minister, the Reverend Robert Morrison in 1994, the Presbytery of Paisley in consultation with Orr Square Church and Oakshaw Trinity Church effected a union in March 1994.
One of the major questions in the creation of Oakshaw Trinity Church was where the Worship Centre would be. A decision was taken that the former Paisley High Church would be that place but it required a major repair and refurbishment. Following negotiations regarding funding and the level of work to be done, the contractor began work in September 1993, finishing 12 months later. With great joy and enthusiasm, Oakshaw Trinity Church met in its Worship Centre for the first time in October 1994.
Oakshaw Trinity Church now had three other Church buildings. The former Congregational Church had been leased to the University of Paisley, the former Orr Square Church was to be sold; and the former St. John’s Church became the centre of a project to convert that building to a Christian Centre in the middle of Paisley which would expand on the work and witness already being done through the Wynd Centre.
Throughout the creation of Oakshaw Trinity Church and its early years, the Church was led by the Reverands Ian S. Currie, Christopher L. Levison and John R. Smith whose guidance and advice greatly assisted the Church’s growth and development.
ROBERT B. COPLETON