Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Wanderer: Donald Fraser. V.

The Free Church of Scotland's Canadian Synod was very much a pioneer work. Donald Fraser, as a member of the under-manned Presbytery of Montreal, and as Clerk of that presbytery, had a great deal of work to do, and that work was added to by his appointment as convener of the Home Mission Committee for Eastern Canada. He was forced to learn the practice of Church courts and to get involved with the appointment of preachers, the running of mission-stations and the erection of new churches. In a few years the young pastor learned fast, and he acquired in his adopted land a level of practical experience that no-one could have gained in Scotland in so short a period of time.
Montreal, in French-speaking Canada, had a very small protestant community at that time. Yet the support Montreal protestants gave to missions and other religious societies was out of all proportion to its smallness - they were zealous in their givinng to God's cause. Fraser, as a Free Church leader in Montreal, soon became involved with these societies, was a member of various committees, and often spoke at their meetings. He was a regular speaker at the Societies' 'Anniversary Week' in January, when the old Wesleyan Church in St. James Street (its successor is pictured) was crowded night after night. The Religious Tract Society, the Sunday School Union, the Bible Society and the French Canadian Mission held their meetings on consecutive nights, and the leading ministers of Montreal's protestant community spoke of the work of God in the province and the world.
Fraser came into close contact with these men, and formed close friendships with them. His closes friends were William Taylor, United Presbyterian pastor (whose 'Scottish Pulpit' we reviewed here recently), John M'Leod of the American Presbyterian Church, and Henry Wilkes of the Congregational Church. These men were Calvinists and ecclesiastically very close to Fraser. What a thing it is for a minister to have brother ministers who can minister to him!
In late 1852 Fraser lost his youngest brother, and then his father. Though Fraser knew where both had gone, and was glad that his father had gone to his rest, he was sorrowful as well. He was however thankful that his father had been spared to be at his wedding in April of that year to Theresa Eliza Isabella Gordon. Fraser had ganed a good wife from the Lord, and he was properly thankful. She was a good mother to their children and a good wife to him. She also entered happily into the role of 'the minister's wife' in the congregations Fraser served.
So he was entered on the work of his ministry. God willng, next time we shall see how his ministry in Canada was brought to a close, and how a door was opened for him elsewhere.



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