Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Wanderer: Donald Fraser. XV.

Donald Fraser was honoured by his Church to be elected Moderator in 1874 and again in 1880. Without its own assembly-hall, the Synod rotated its meeting places. In 1874 it was held in the splendid Gothic Church built for Edward Irving at Regent Square, then pastored by his friend Dr. Dykes. In 1880 it met in Fraser's own Church at Marylebone - by that time completely reconstructed.
From his arrival at Marylebone, Fraser saw blessing and enlargement in his congregation. Numbers grew, and outreach work was developed. Sunday-schools were set up, District Missions developed. Fraser took much of the credit to his elders, active, godly men who saw their place held responsibility as well as honour.
In 1874 the Marylebone Church finally secured the land needed to enlarge the old building. In fact it was virtually completely rebuilt in what was by then the preferred style- the Gothic. The Lord Mayor of London, Sir Andrew Lusk, laid the foundation stone - as might have been expected, since he was a member of the congregation!
During the rebuilding the Church had to meet elsewhere. The secured the use of Allen's Riding School in Seymour Street. It was a large enough building, but of course they had to lay a wooden floor every Saturday afternoon and take it up again on Monday morning. It was expensive, but there was no other way to hold together the large congregation for which the new Church was being built.

The new Church, a Gothic building with seating for sixteen hundred people, was opened on May 3rd 1875. Dr. J. Oswald Dykes preached at the morning service, Dr. Saphir in the afternoon, and Fraser in the evening. It was a joyous occasion.
However, hire of the Ridin g-School and the cost of the extra land in the West End position of the church meant that the congregation had to open owing some twelve thousand pounds - an enormous sum back then.

God willing, next time we shall see how Fraser fared as an author in London.



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