The church was founded in 1874 by 16 year old David Jack Findlay who was an enthusiastic new convert of the Moody and Sankey mission in Glasgow earlier that year.
He and two young friends started a kitchen meeting, which was to grow to outsize all available accommodation in the area. Hence in 1894 Findlay built and filled a new 1000 seat hall on the present site and called it, “The Tabernacle”, abbreviated to “The Tab” by many later. “It was built on utilitarian lines with no outward embellishments and not even a frontage to the street.”
Twelve years later the evangelistic activities once again outgrew the accommodation and the building was all but knocked down and rebuilt on the same site to accommodate approximately 40% more seats and additional side halls and meeting rooms. In later years the seating was reduced to its current level of 650.
In addition to being known as an evangelistic centre, the Tabernacle was to become renowned throughout the world for its missionary interest and fervour. The missionary vision came from the heart of the founder who initially applied to go to China as a missionary. However Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, was of the opinion that Findlay could serve the Lord more effectively by staying at home and sending others out. Accordingly 12 missionaries went out to China from the Fellowship even before the Tabernacle was opened and a total of 56 sent out to various parts of the world during the Pastor’s life time. Now almost 100 missionaries in total have gone out over the life of the Church.
The Tabernacle also became known as a preaching centre with regular visits from world renowned preachers such as F B Meyer, Campbell Morgan, Graham Scroggie, W P Nicholson and Oswald Smith.
Following the death of the founder in 1938, the work has continued with various pastors appointed to head up the work and the emphasis on teaching, evangelism, mission and youth has continued for 135 years.
Over these years, the Tabernacle became the centre of various innovative activities:
- Founding the Festivals of Male Voice Praise which was to spread worldwide.
- Setting up of the first recording facility in Europe in 1948, in the form of the Gospel Radio Fellowship (currently GRF Radio) to send out radio programmes for broadcast abroad.
- Creating the Stauros Foundation to reach out to folks with alcohol and drug addiction problems.
Also over the years the name changed several times in honour of its founder, becoming the Findlay Memorial Church in 1980.
In recent years Findlay Church has set up a team ministry, developing small groups and student ministries and is reaching into the community through its links with Bethany Christian Trust.