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Whose faith follow: David Morrison (1881-1977)

A Morrison, Inverness

My father, David Morrison, was born in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire in 1881. The eldest of seven children born to William Morrison, an iron-stone miner, he started work at 12 years of age in a rope factory. At 14, he was converted at tent meetings conducted in Kilbirnie by Harry Young of the London Evangelising Society. Evidence of his own gift as an evangelist became apparent soon after his conversion when he ventured to help in open-air witnessing. His first such attempt was at Lamlash, and it was a source of much joy to him that, at that same village, 70 years later, three of his grandchildren at a similar early age engaged in beach mission work among children. Such was his reputation as a speaker that he became known locally as the "boy preacher".

At age 19, he was invited to conduct a Sunday evening service in the Gospel Hall, Kilbirnie - in those days, a gathering of some 400. With that meeting, his preaching career had begun in earnest. Several villages were within reasonable walking distance from Kilbirnie, and regularly he made preaching visits to Lochwinnoch, Dalry, Barrmill, Beith, and Barkip. In 1904, he and a friend, Tom McClung, conducted meetings in the Reading Room at Barkip for several months. Much blessing resulted in this village known locally as "The Den". It no longer exists, but quite a number in Ayrshire assemblies today can trace their heritage to that fruitful campaign in "The Den".

In 1905, he left his employment to give his whole time to preaching the gospel, first joining a Mr Hodkinson who was conducting a tent mission in Yorkshire. While there, a Mr Mason from Hemsworth contacted him - they were opening a new hall. They needed a preacher but they had no money - would he come? Firm in the conviction which he held throughout his long life that "God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply", he went. There were large meetings and many conversions.

He set sail in 1906 for Canada where he spent three years preaching and teaching near Orillia in Ontario. After returning to Scotland, he made his first visit to the Highlands in 1909 linking up for three months with William Mackenzie. He returned the following year to join him and David Walker in meetings held in a large wooden-sided tent in several locations in the Nairn area.

The tent was moved to Inverness in 1911 to a site just yards from where Ebenezer Hall now stands. His own written record of that period reads: "We visited every home in the town with tracts and invitations to the meetings". It proved to be a time of great blessing; meetings were well attended and many professed conversion, among them Peter Horne of Bolivia and his sister (36 years later to become my mother-in-law!). In mid-summer they moved the tent to Drumnadrochit where the tent with capacity for 200 could not accommodate those wishing to hear the gospel.

On returning to Inverness, they pitched the tent on Union Road (a house later built on this site became our family home for many years). The erection of the tent was watched with interest by two Academy schoolgirls from Stratherrick. They resolved to attend and both were converted. Little did father realise it at the time, but one of them, Isabella Shaw, was his future wife!

This series continued until Christmas, 1911, when the first Inverness Annual Conference was held. In May 1912, a number of converts from these meetings commenced to break bread in a hired hall on Church Street, the beginning of the Celt Street, Inverness, assembly.

Father spent the next five seasons with Peter Bruce and saw much blessing in various parts. In 1918, he married Isabella Shaw who by this time was a qualified teacher. Her training and teaching skills proved of immeasurable value to father who, having left school so early, was largely self-taught. They set up home in Inverness and it was from that base that he continued for the next 44 years in the work of pioneer evangelism in the Highlands and Islands to which God had called him.

Between the two world wars he was generally engaged during the summer months in tent meetings in country districts near Inverness. In winter months, he would pay extended visits to Orkney and Shetland and the Hebrides. Although winter brought inclement weather to these northern isles, he had found that the islanders were much readier to attend special meetings at that time of year than in the summer when the demands of crofting and fishing were so heavy.

He was one who shunned the limelight. Gifted not only as a preacher of the gospel but also as a minister of the Word, he was frequently invited to address large conference gatherings in the south of Scotland, as well as in England, Ireland and Wales. Only occasionally, however, was he prepared to leave the area to which he had been called.

With advancing years he was less mobile, but continued to provide much help in a pastoral and teaching ministry in the Inverness assembly which, with other Northern assemblies, marked his Jubilee in the Highlands at a special gathering in 1960. Two years later he and my mother left Inverness and settled near my home in Yorkshire. The Lord still had work for him to do, and the assembly at Redcar greatly valued his ministry in the four years spent there.

In 1966 we all moved to Scotland, this time to his native Ayrshire, and after mother’s death in 1967 he made his home with us and survived her a further 10 years. The last major preaching engagement he fulfilled was in his 92nd year when he gave the opening address at the Aberdeen Centenary Conference in 1973. He spoke from Romans 6, without notes as always, and his characteristic vigour and freshness were still very much in evidence.

Up to only a few weeks before his homecall, he was taking part in our Welwyn Garden City assembly where his ministry was an inspiration to young and old alike. He was called to his reward on 12th January, 1977 after a brief illness, and at the funeral service held in Largs many warm tributes were paid to the memory of this veteran evangelist, pastor and teacher.


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