Dating from 1843 but with its roots in the Reformation, The Free Church of Scotland owes its distinctive title to its historical struggle to remain free from state interference in its internal affairs. It is an Evangelical Presbyterian Church. It has close and active relations with many other Reformed churches of Jesus Christ throughout the world and stands firmly in the tradition which accepts the Bible in its entirety as the Word of God and, therefore, derive its forms of teaching, worship, ministry and government from it. The main emphasis of our worship is the preaching of the gospel — the good news of a free and sovereign salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
The Free Church has had an extensive history on Prince Edward Island with historical associations with the ministry of Rev. Donald MacDonald. An ordained minister from Perthshire, Scotland, came to the Island in 1826. He preached wherever opportunity presented itself – in private homes, barns and hillsides. The content of his messages was strongly Calvinistic. Such preaching is in great contrast to that of present day ecumenism in which the great doctrines of the Reformation – “Justification by faith alone” and “Divine Sovereignty” are obscured if not completely obliterated.
In the years since, the ministers and elders of these congregations endeavoured to uphold the everlasting gospel. However, following a series of church unions they became more or less isolated and as it was unsatisfactory to continue in such isolation eventually a link was established with the Free Church of Scotland. The church is Presbyterian in government and the congregations on Prince Edward Island, at present, form three pastoral charges united under one Presbytery. The next superior body is the Synod of North America.
At the time of Donald MacDonald’s death in 1867 the population of the church was numbered in the thousands. Shortly thereafter, Rev. Mr. James MacColl spent a brief time ministering to these people. In 1875, Rev. John Goodwill, a former missionary commenced a lengthy ministry. Although there was not entire satisfaction with his preaching at first, a widespread revival occurred in the latter part of his ministry and the church greatly strengthened. During Mr. Goodwill’s time some elders also conducted services beings set apart as preaching elders. These elders included Ewen Lamont, George Bears, Elias Roberts, and John Compton. Other early ministers were Rev. D. M. Campbell and Rev. William Campbell.
The Free Church of Scotland bears testimony to the Christian faith as stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the well known shorter catechism. As a church she steadfastly contends for a return to this faith of our fathers which rests upon the infallible and inerrant Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
“…that in all things he may have the preeminence.”