Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Wanderer: Donald Fraser. XI.

Donald Fraser was inducted to the pastorate of the Marylebone Presbyterian Church, Upper George Street, London, on February 4th 1870. The Church was solid, though not large for Victorian London, and they met in an unpretentious square building which seated between eight and nine hundred people in a large area and two tiers of galleries around three sides of the building. The schoolrooms were located in the basement of the structure, and Fraser described them as "very uninviting."
The sermon on the night of Fraser's induction was preached by his friend Oswald Dykes, who had been settled at Regent Square Church a few months earlier, having not had the same difficulties leaving Scotland that Fraser had suffered. The two men continued their friendship until Fraser's death, and no doubt each found life in England made more bearable by their proximity.
Donald Fraser did not allow his change of surroundings to affect his inistence that he occupied his own pulpit as loften as possible. With the exception of five or six Lord's Days in August and September each year, he was alweays to be found at Marylebone as long as his health held out. If other congregations wanted the services of Mr. Fraser (Dr. Fraser from 1872, when the University of Aberdeen bestowed on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity), they could only secure him on week-nights. This commitment to the Church over which he had been placed is an admirable example of pastoral fidelity, as he could have pleaded many excuses for taking services at other churches.
And Fraser was a popular preacher in London. The old building soon filled up, its two tiers of galleries proved insufficient, and the session was forced to consider plans to extend the sanctuary. Due to its site on Upper George Street, expansion required the purchase of an adjoining building - and that took time and money.
Meanwhile, partly due to the forward movement of the English Presbyterian Church and partly due to the increasing desire of the Church to project itself, Fraser found himself called upon to open buildings from Jarrow to Bournemouth and Norwich to Gloucester. Altogether he preached at the opening of over forty church buildings of the English Presbyterian Church alone, not counting the Churches of other denominations such as the Baptists and Methodists, and Presbyterian places of worship in Scotland and Ireland.
His experiences in Canada and Florence made him a particularly welcome speaker on missionary topics at Exeter Hall and elsewhere. Not only did he preach missionary sermons for his owen denomination and interdenominational societies, but he preached for the Wesleyan Missionary Society and the Baptist Missionary Society. In short, he was 'in labours more abundant'.

How those labours played out we shall see, God willing, next time.



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