• Presbyterian Reformed Church

A Background to PRC Foreign Missions

Having spoken of the streams of which the Presbyterian Reformed Church is the confluence, it is time to speak of something which flowed down those streams into the PRC: an interest in foreign missions.

In the Highland Fork, that interest evidenced itself in Rev. John Ross of Brucefield’s support of Rev.

George Mackay’s pioneering work in Formosa (now Taiwan). Mackay was a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the denomination which Ross could not in all conscience enter. Yet, Ross was invited to address the congregation of 15,000 persons who had gathered for Mackay’s farewell in 1881 after a fundraising furlough.

Many speakers made mention of the piteous state of the heathen in their ignorance and degradation. When Ross came to the podium, he solemnly asked, “What is the matter with Formosa? What is the matter with China? What is the matter with Canada? What is the matter with Oxford? What is the matter with Zorra? What is the matter with Woodstock?"

He paused, eyed the congregation, and said, “It is sin.”

The gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation, is needed just as much by the senders as it is by those to whom it is sent. There is no place for pride or condescension in a world where all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

In the Lowland Fork, when the Chesley congregation belonged to the Associate Presbyterian Church, the minister was Rev. Samuel McNeel. One of his brothers, Joseph, came with him to Chesley where he opened a business in the town and was the precentor in the church. Another brother, John, was a missionary to Seoni District, in India, under the United Original Secession Church of Scotland. He was ordained in Edinburgh on 18th November 1897 and left for India soon after.

In 1912, in his capacity as Moderator of the Synod of the United Original Seceders that year, McNeel was invited to the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the founding of Princeton Theological Seminary. He was unable to attend as he had just returned to Seoni.

There was a later congregational connection when Rev. William Matheson officiated at the wedding of McNeel’s youngest daughter, Jean, at Toronto in 1945.

When, in 1912, the Highland and the Lowland Forks came together in the Ontario Congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, they supported that denomination’s mission in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Even after the Ontario Congregation was excluded from the Free Presbyterian Church in 1930, attachments having been made, members still contributed to that denomination’s missions fund.

More recently, PRC congregations and members have supported various mission organisations and individual missionaries based on personal connections. That is, until the beginning of the Liberia Project. As a visit to its website will show, the PRC’s 21st-century missions work has similarities to those of the past. The men of the Forks were men of strong convictions. Yet, rather than displaying insularity, they, like the PRC today, worked in a spirit of cooperation and partnership. At times, there was a denominational presence on the field. This time, there is the Rev. Timothy Worrell.

Originally published at: https://idgebbie.wixsite.com/presbyterianpicante/post/a-background-to-prc-foreign-missions

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