St John's Parish Church of Scotland
Onthank, Kilmarnock

Registered Scottish Charity SC033107

Cairn outside church

History of St John's Church, Kilmarnock

Although the building here in Onthank was opened in 1956 the Church itself is very much older.

The story began in 1880 when a group of elders and members left St Marnock’s Church with Mr Dunlop King who was the assistant Minister. They met on 13th September in the Corn Exchange hall to form a church of their own.

In 1883 the Free Church Presbytery of Irvine ordained and inducted Mr King as minister of “Braehead Free Church” (St John’s first name).  In that year too the congregation started to use the Opera House in John Finnie Street.  In 1896 it was decided to change the name of the church and “St John’s” was finally chosen. 

Early in 1939 a move was made to Morven Avenue.  Thus St John’s began to serve a housing community. 

In the post-war development of Kilmarnock new housing was built in Onthank and soon over 1,500 homes were erected.  To meet the need a new building in Wardneuk Drive was opened in September 1956. 

Ten years later a new hall was added and this is how we find the Church as it stands today.


1880-1889 Rev A Dunlop King
1890-1891 Rev Robert McLean
1892-1913 Rev Andrew Goodall
1913-1919 Rev Matthew Houston
1919-1922 Rev George Jeffrey
1923-1925 Rev Alex Shaw
1925-1932 Rev James Robertson
1933-1943 Rev Cameron Clark
1943-1951 Rev John Barker
1951-1958 Rev John C Becke
1958-1964 Rev Geraint Edwards
1964-1986 Rev James M Macdonald
1987-1989 Rev Robert Johnstone
1989-1996 Rev William Cullen
1997-2014 Rev Susan M Anderson
2017 - Rev Allison E Becker

1998-2005 Rev Catherine Shaw

Miss E Weir, Miss Janet Robertson, Miss Sarah McGarva

SESSION CLERKS (since opening in Onthank)

1946-1959 Mr R Littlejohn
1959- Mr J Agnew
1959-1960 Mr J Alexander
1960-1980 Mr H McTavish
1980- 2010 Mr A Gilchrist
2010- 2017 Mrs Flora Sutherland
2017- Mrs Elaine Paton


2005-2013 Mrs Anne McAllister


2013-2015    Rev Anne McAllister