Church of Scotland
"The Church of Scotland, (Scots: The Scots Kirk, Scottish Gaelic: Eaglais na h-Alba) known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation."
This week I have been working hard on my McEwan Clan, as has been for the last few weeks. I have them mostly in order.
I previously told the story of John McEwan (my great-grandfather, this week is dedicated to his wife Janet Stevenson-McEwan and their first child Frederick McEwan
As mentioned in her biography and through my story “The Bracelet”, Janet was a woman of great faith. Her motivation may well have been the influence of the minister that married her and most likely shaped her religious beliefs. She and her family emigrated at the same time as Rev. William McClure, and settled in the same area in Toronto. Janet and her family most likely went to the church he first preached at.
In Scotland, The Church of Scotland, had a major break which would have occurred just a few years before my McEwan and Stevenson family immigrated to Toronto. This break occurred in 1843 when one third of the “Kirk” (see def. above) broke away to form what came to be the Free Kirk.
During the next ninety years in Scotland the church spent its time covering up the reasons for the division and reuniting some of them (all Presbyterians). At that time the Presbyterians were the largest Protestant church in the country, Those that did not unite formed very small churches alongside it.
In Canada the French Huguenots and the Scottish settlers were the roots of the church. They were followers of John Calvin and John Knox (Protestant Reformation theologians).
In 1925 as a Christian denomination 70% of the Presbyterians joined in with the Methodist Church of Canada and the Congregationalists to form the United Church of Canada. It was not until 1939 that those who did not merge were able to use the name Presbyterian Church of Canada legally. Their right to use ii was quite possibly due much to the support of Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King and Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir.
When the Synod met in Kingston, Ontario in 1844 they paralleled the situation that had affected the Scottish Assembly in 1843. Most of the students at Queen’s had joined the Free Church, proceeding to Toronto and founding Knox College. They merged with the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland College by 1861.
William McClure, the Methodist New Connexion minister who was the minister who married John McEwan and Janet Stevenson was born in Lisburn, County Antrim, Ireland, Jun 1803. He was the son of John McClure, a Methodist minister, and Sara Trelford immigrants to Toronto.
William apprenticed at the early age of 14 and by 1828 he had become a travelling agent for the Hibernian Bible Society. Over the next twenty years he preached in Ireland acquiring the reputation as a powerful speaker. Strong drink and Roman Catholics were the enemy. He emigrated to Canada in 1848, the same year as the Janet Stevenson’s family and was appointed as the assistant superintendent of the New Connexion mission.
He preached at the Temperance Street Church in Toronto from 1848 to 1851 but travelled the province teaching as well. Over the next decade he did his work in London, Hamilton and in 1857 Montreal. The wealth of the Roman Catholic Church disgusted him and he referred to it as “the Roman Beast.”
In 1860 McClure took an important appointment in Toronto. While he had never received formal education, he was put in charge of training young men for the ministry.
McClure was a very devout man and even after his retirement he continued to travel, lecturing and collecting money for the church.
By 1861 most of his time was spent training future ministers. He applied for a seat on the senate of the University of Toronto in December 1862 and was admitted to that body just two months after his application.
Driven by faith and his devotion to the temperance movement, he was also a humanitarian and sincere to his cause. He was however, open enough to endorse the Young Men’s Christian Association, The Young People’s Mutual Improvement Association and the Canadian anti-slavery movement.
In the words of I. C. B. Pemberton, “He was truly an example of the spiriturlal philanthropist.”
I. C. B. Pemberton, “McCLURE, WILLIAM,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 22, 2014.
II. Life and Labours of the Rev. Wm. McClure Published 1872 by J. Campbell in Toronto . Written in English
more on Janet Stevenson-McEwan and Frederick McEwan