The History of Leith

September 2, 2004

The Defence League of 1891

The Defence League of Junction Road UP Church came about as a reaction, because of the attitude towards drink in the late 19th century and the Temperance Leagues, to the use of fermented wine at communion. A part of the Congregation was against using fermented wine at Communion and they eventually left to form the Ebenezer Church in 1891. Which must have been very difficult for some people as the split was treated like a death with people using black edged paper to notify the church of there intention to leave.

Letter to the members of Junction Road Church 1890 from Rev James Scott

A leaflet of the Defence League said the following-

“ The object of the league id to defend the rights and privileges of Members of the Church, to ensure the faithful preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to persevere the Church Property for the use and purposes of a Christian Church.

For the long period of over fifty years the Church under the faithful ministry of the Rev Francis Muir and the Rev James Deans prospered abundantly and peace was maintained within its wall.

Recently as everyone one is aware, the congregation has been troubled and irritated and broken up, principally owing to the narrow minded and mistaken zeal of a number of those who have got into offices in the Church and the proceedings have more than once became so notorious as to bring the Church into public contempt and in fact a public scandal.

The present crisis has been produced by an attempt to change the Communion Wine. Now there is not the slightest warrant in Scripture for this. The wine at present in use has been used for ages in the Church and no good ground has been made for making the change. But even supposing there had been a sincere and spontaneous desire for a change among a number of the members of which there is no evidence the matter should have gone about in a fair and straightforward manner but no such change in the long established usage of the Church ought to be permitted unless a clear majority of members of the congregation have voted in favour of it. The total members who said to have voted in favour of a change by the recent so called Plebiscite are less then a third of the members.

In order to vindicate the rights and privileges of those members who are opposed to the changes and the manner in which the business was gone about and in view of the recent arbitrary and high handed proceedings of the majority of the Session in refusing to consider honourable and prudent proposals and to restore peace we agree to join the League and to unite in the following policy-

First-To protest against the introduction of unfermented wine or Syrup into the Church and to discountenance the use of the same at Communion.
Second. To stop the supplies at Church door and otherwise
Third. To enquire into the Title Deeds and other papers to ascertain upon what conditions the church property is held and the rights of the members”

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