Thursday, January 25, 2007

The History of a denomination: XI.

The Assembly of 1910 met under something of a cloud. Just three weeks before King Edward VII had died, and the nation was in deep mourning for him. Thus the Assembly had such business as sending a loyal address of sympathy to the Prince of Wales (George V) already set before it.
The Moderator in 1910 was Dr. John Young, a former United Presbyterian. Like Dr. Hutton, he took the chair in ordinary pulpit dress. Unlike Dr. Hutton, he said nothing about it. With his long experience in home mission work, he concentrated on that in his address, as well as referring to the death of the King and also the death of Alexander Maclaren of Manchester, the noted Scottish Baptist minister (Note: Maclaren's name is spelt in several ways. It was really McLaren, but on his published works he spelt it 'Maclaren', therefore both of these are acceptable. All other spellings are simply incorrect).

Dr. C.G. M'Crie, Moderator of the 1907 Assembly, also died in 1910
The business of the Assembly was also dominated by the final property settlement in the court case with the Free Church of Scotland. It was finally settled in 1910, leaving both churches free to pursue the aims of Christ's kingdom in Scotland, no longer burdened with a financial question. Of course the United Free Church was unhappy that they had to give any money to the Free Church. They had counted on the opponents of union being turned out of their manses and churches. In this climate wild rumours flew about that many of the Free Church manses had broken windows and were homes only to rats and mice. In fact they were, if not already homes to settled pastors, used as accomodationfor visiting students on wekkends, and the only broken windows had been broken by unwise and over-zealous United Free Church supporters.
A word of explanation is necessary here. We are in full and undisguised sympathy with the 'Wee Frees' on the matter of 1900. Provision ought to have been made for the protesters in the Union settlement, and as the United Free Church did not need the name 'the Free Church of Scotland' any more, it ought to have been left to the protesters. Certainly demanding the property of congregations that did not feel able to enter the union of 1900 was hardly a Christian action. We do not agree with everything the Free Church did in the period 1900-04, but believe that tey were seeking the redress of a real and serious wrong.
The other major question, raised in the previous Assembly, had been the question of Jewish evangelism in Scotland. It was pointed out that this was in fact the responsibility of those Presbyteries which had a significant Jewish population. Nevertheless the committee on Jewish evangelism made clear that it was willing to assist those presbyteries.
The question of the transfer of ministers from one charge to another arose, and with it the perennial question - are long or short pastorates most desirable? Some were all for adopting the Methodist system, in which pastorates were limited to a fixed term with a compulsory change at the end. Others felt that ministers ought to be allowed to request a change, while still others were in support of the old system where it was the responsibility of the local congregation to call a pastor. We will not disguise our preference for the last scheme, while noting that some ministers benefit from short pastorates. Yet our preference is for longer settled pastorates.
The unfermented 'wine' issue came up again in 1910, with two members of the Rutherglen congregation protesting that the Kirk Session had illegally substituted grape juice for wine at the Lord's Table. Unfortunately the appeal was dismissed. Again, we would complain that it is fermentation that makes wine. Any other 'wine' is not real wine at all.
We say this as a total abstainer (apart from the Lord's Supper, of course).
Co-operation with the Church of Scotlnd was proceeding quietly, while the Church and State Committee appared more and more as a group of reactionaries dedicated to wrecking a process that was proceeding towards a favourable conclusion. Dr. Kelman of Edinburgh actually moved that the activties of the committee be suspended!

God willing, next time we shall see how 1911 continued this trend.



Post a Comment

<< Home