The Paris congregation of the Scots Kirk, was established in 1858; from then until the early 1880's services were held within the Oratoire du Louvre. Around 1883, the search began to look for a church building which might serve the Scots Kirk for generations to come. In 1885, the congregation moved its place of worship to the former American Episcopal church in rue Bayard. Then, as now, this was considered an ideal location, situated in the heart of Paris and a stone’s throw from Champs-Elysées.
From its beginnings in the 1850's the Church of Scotland form of worship and other opportunities for fellowship and friendship, has attracted many to rue Bayard. Some famous people have worshipped here. They include American President Woodrow Wilson, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and Eric Liddell the famous Scottish Olympic athlete (who preferred to preach in the Scots Kirk rather than race on a Sunday in the 1924 Paris Games). His life, missionary work and tragic death, are recounted in the book and film "Chariots of Fire".
In 1940, following the forced closure of the church due to the German occupation of Paris, Scots Kirk minister Donald Caskie moved to Marseille where he held services in the Seamen's Mission. He became a member of the French Resistance and a vital link in helping allied soldiers and airmen to safety in neutral Spain. Betrayed, arrested and sentenced to death by the Gestapo, his life was saved by a German pastor. His fascinating story is told in the book The Tartan Pimpernel, and this link is one of which the Kirk is particularly proud.
The laying of the Scots Kirk foundation stone by the Queen in 1957.
The Queen on the left and Revd Donald Caskie in the middle.
The Very Rev. Dr. R. F. V. Scott, Moderator of the General Assembly
in 1956-57 and, at that time, minister of St. Columba’s, Pont Street, London, on the right.
The original building was replaced by a new church in the late 1950's. This was unfortunately beset by serious structural problems from an early date, and by the 1980's it was obvious that it would require major repair or replacement.
In 1995 the Church of Scotland Board of World Mission decided to "sell" the site to a developer. They gave the developer the right to construct private apartments in return for demolishing the old church and providing the empty shell of the new. The daunting task of raising over £320,000 to transform this into a furnished and well-equipped church complex fell upon the congregation. Thanks to the support of members and friends throughout the world, the Development Appeal had raised over £250,000 by late 2002. The gap was bridged and final contractual bills settled by means of a loan from World Mission. The interest charges on the loan and repayment of the capital sum were a considerable financial challenge for the congregation but the loan was repaid in full in 2014.
2002 - Present Day
Between autumn 1999 and 2002, services and other activities were held in the Eglise Réformée du Saint Esprit in rue Roquépine. The new Scots Kirk building was opened and dedicated in March 2002 by Rt Rev John Miller, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Its many attractive features reflect the excellent design work of architect Charles MacCallum. They include the external grill on which is mounted a Pictish Cross sculpted by Jacqueline Stieger; the Chancel Cross by the same artist; the Communion furniture, fine interior finish and excellent acoustic. The Communion Table and Chairs were funded by the Baird Trust; the Chancel Cross by the Hope Trust and Mr J McCormack-Turner; the cost of the pulpit was met by the wife and family of the late Rev David McKean, minister in Paris from 1975 - 1982.