CHAPTER X. CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN GREAT BRITAIN.
No doubt many of my readers will be specially interested in knowing something of my experience and association with the brethren across the sea, and it is my desire to give them as fair an understanding of the situation as I can. There are five congregations in Glasgow, having a membership of six hundred and seventy-eight persons. The oldest one of these, which formerly met in Brown Street and now meets in Shawlands Hall, was formed in 1839, and has one hundred and sixty-one members. The Coplaw Street congregation, which branched from Brown Street, and is now the largest of the five, dates back to 1878, and numbers two hundred and nineteen. It was my privilege to attend one of the mid-week services of this congregation and speak to those present on that occasion. I also met some of the brethren in Edinburgh, where two congregations have a membership of two hundred and fifty-three. At Kirkcaldy, the home of my worthy friend and brother, Ivie Campbell, Jr., there is a congregation of one hundred and seventy disciples, which I addressed one Lord's day morning. In the evening I went out with Brother and Sister Campbell and another brother to Coaltown of Balgonie, and addressed the little band worshiping at that place.
My next association with the brethren was at the annual meeting of "Churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland," convened at Wigan, England, August second, third, and fourth. While at Wigan I went out to Platt Bridge and spoke to the brethren. There are ninety members in this congregation. One night in Birmingham I met with the brethren in Charles Henry Street, where the congregation, formed in 1857, numbers two hundred and seventy-four, and the next night I was with the Geach Street congregation, which has been in existence since 1865, and numbers two hundred and twenty-nine members. Bro. Samuel Joynes, now of Philadelphia, was formerly connected with this congregation. While I was in Bristol it was my pleasure to meet with the Thrissell Street church, composed of one hundred and thirty-one members. I spoke once in their place of worship and once in a meeting on the street. The last band of brethren I was with while in England was the church at Twynholm, London. This is the largest congregation of all, and will receive consideration later in the chapter. The next place that I broke bread was in a little mission to the Jews in the Holy City. To complete a report of my public speaking while away, I will add that I preached in Mr. Thompson's tabernacle in Jerusalem, and spoke a few words on one or both of the Lord's days at the mission to which reference has already been made. I also spoke in a mission meeting conducted by Mr. Locke at Port Said, Egypt, preached once on the ship as I was coming back across the Atlantic, and took part in a little debate on shipboard as I went out on the journey, and in an entertainment the night before I got back to New York.
In this chapter I am taking my statistics mainly from the Year Book containing the fifty-ninth annual report of the churches in Great Britain and Ireland co-operating for evangelistic purposes, embracing almost all of the congregations of disciples in the country. According to this report, there were one hundred and eighty-three congregations on the list, with a total membership of thirteen thousand and sixty-three, at the time of the annual meeting last year.
(Since writing this chapter, the sixtieth annual report of these brethren across the sea has come into my hands, and the items in this paragraph are taken mainly from the address of Bro. John Wyckliffe Black, as chairman of the annual meeting which assembled in August of this year at Leeds. The membership is now reported at thirteen thousand eight hundred and forty-four, an increase of about eight hundred members since the meeting held at Wigan in 1904. In 1842 the British brotherhood numbered thirteen hundred, and in 1862 it had more than doubled. After the lapse of another period of twenty years, the number had more than doubled again, standing at six thousand six hundred and thirty-two. In 1902, when twenty years more had passed, the membership had almost doubled again, having grown to twelve thousand five hundred and thirty-seven. In 1842 the average number of members in each congregation was thirty-one; in 1862 it was forty; in 1882 it had reached sixty-one; and in 1902 it was seventy-two. The average number in each congregation is now somewhat higher than it was in 1902.)
Soon after the meeting was convened on Tuesday, "the Conference recognised the presence of Mrs. Hall and Miss Jean Hall, of Sydney, N.S.W., and Brother Don Carlos Janes, from Ohio, U.S.A., and cordially gave them a Christian welcome." The address of welcome and the address of the chairman, Brother James Anderson, of Fauldhouse, Scotland, came early in the day. The meeting on Wednesday opened with worship and a short address, followed by reports from the General Sunday-school, Reference, General Training, and Magazine Committees. One interesting feature of the proceedings of this day was the conference paper by Bro. T.J. Ainsworth on the subject of "The Relation of Christianity to the Social Questions of the Day." Besides a discussion of this paper, there was a preaching service at night. Thursday, the last day of the meeting, was occupied, after the morning worship and short address, with the reports of committees and the appointment of committees. At the social meeting at night several brethren, who had been previously selected, spoke on such subjects as seemed good to them. Bro. W.A. Kemp, of Melbourne, Australia, and the writer were the only speakers not residents of the British Isles. At the close of the meeting the following beautiful hymn was sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne":