The History of Leith

August 11, 2004

The Pioneer Missionary

The Rev William Muirhead D.D. Shanghai China, Senior Missionary of the London Missionary Society in his youth attended Junction Road Church and under the influence of a sermon preached by Mr Muir he resolved to devote his life to the missionary cause. Writing to one of Mr Muir’s sons at the time of his father’s death Mr Muirhead says “When I contemplate my first aspirations after missionary work, my soul clings to him to him as their great instrumental cause. Though I have been long and far separated from him yet I delight to trace my spiritual relation to your dear father as a son in the faith and to whom under God I am largely indebted for the position I now occupy and the course of Christian Service it is mine to follow out”

The Rev William Muirhead

On being asked recently about his ordination Dr Muirhead said “I was ordained in Junction Road Church in November 1846. The Rev Francis Muir presided on the occasion and Dr Brown of Broughton Place preached the ordination sermon from the text “Honour all men”. The Rev Mr Swan late Missionary from Mongolia gave the Missionary address and Professor Mc Michael gave an address on Missionary wok and China. There was also present the Rev J.Logan Aikman and several members of the Relief Presbytery. The Church was crowded to overflowing on the occasion.

The friend to whom the doctor told this says “It is forty nine long years since the event took place but to hear him speak of it one would fancy it had happened but yesterday.

Dr Muirhead is still active in his work. The “conquests of the cross” The venerable Muirhead genial friend and untiring guide and helper of every new missionary who passes through Shanghai on his way to the interior or other parts may still be see his thin keen intellectual face crowned with silver shining out through the dense crowd of sallow toned Chinamen who surround him in the preaching quarter in the “Native Town” of the busy port”

In 1896 he returned to Scotland for the last time and preached at the Children’s service at Junction Road Church. He spoke of his love of the Chinese and of his ambition to win them for Christ and that is why after fifty years he was determined to go back. After the address Mr Scott the minister of Junction Road Church entered the pulpit and both men shook hands and so Mr Muirhead made his farewell to the church in which he was ordained so many years earlier. .

The Rev James Scott Junction Road Parish Church.

Taken from “A Sketch of the History of the Junction Road United Prebyterian Church Leith” 1822-1896

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