31 October 2012 marked the 350th anniversary of the ejection of nearly 400 Covenanter ministers from their parishes in Scotland.
These men refused to conform to the imposition on the Reformed Church in Scotland by King Charles II of what they believed to be unscriptural forms of worship and church government.
A reign of persecution began and many of these men were hounded, tortured and killed. Some were executed on a gallows in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. A Covenanter Memorial stone marks the spot where they died.
Before the annual meetings of the Scottish Reformation Society (SRS) on 15 September, a group gathered for a thanksgiving service at the memorial. The service was led by Rev. John J. Murray, vice-chairman of the SRS, who gave a short introduction to the Covenanters. Rev. Gavin Beers then preached on the kingship of Christ.
It was a privilege to pay tribute to those who fought for the religious and civil liberties we have enjoyed and which are once again under threat as a result of new political pressures.
From the Grassmarket, the group moved to the Magdalen Chapel. This is where some of those executed were taken and their bodies dressed before burial in Greyfriars Kirkyard. The chapel is now the headquarters of the SRS.
The business meeting heard from the chairman, Rev. Dr J. Millar, of recent progress in the work of the society. At a public meeting, Mr Beers, an Ulsterman ministering in Ayr, spoke on the ‘Scottish-Ulster connection’.
He traced the historical connections in the pre-Reformation, Reformation and Covenanting periods. It was a fascinating study of men and movements, delivered with conviction and passion. He ended by applying powerfully the lessons to our own day.