Free Church of Scotland (article by Rev John Ross)

On this Sunday in 1843 the first Free Church services were held.

The Free Church started with no churches, no manses, no schools, but they did have the people.

At Morningside in Edinburgh, Dr. Chalmers opened his own house to use as a church. He stood midway up the staircase and preached to a disjointed congregation scattered into different rooms. All could hear, but only half could see the preacher.

At Ruthwell on the Solway Firth, Rev Horatius Bonar preached to as many as 8000 on a hillside from which the whins had been removed. People came in carriages and other vehicles from great distances. Some of the crowd felt a great solemnity, others curiosity, and some anxiety, they all expected to hear about Church affairs; but for Bonar it was too good an opportunity to miss for preaching the Gospel.

At Woodside, Aberdeen, the people met in the playground of the school. A small pulpit was placed at one end, with an awning above as protection from the the weather. Despite a cold, overcast day, the people began to assemble long before the time of worship, and by eleven o’clock the playground was filled by more than 1500 persons.

A Duthil, Inverness-shire, the place of meeting was Ballintraan Wood, in the middle of the parish. The attendance was good, with every man of any consequence in the parish attending. Open air services continued at Duthil for a long while until a site was granted for a church building.

Image

Picture: Duthil congregation meets in Ballintraan Wood.

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