Bereans

Originating in Edinburgh in 1773, they were followers of John Barclay,* who took their name from Acts 17:10,11. When Barclay was inhibited from preaching in Fettercairn, seceders built a chapel to which James Macrea was called as minister. Barclay himself led the Berean assembly in Edinburgh, and another was formed at Crieff, near Barclay's birthplace. During a prolonged visit to England (1776-78) he formed congregations in London and Bristol. He ordained and sent to lead the Bereans in Edinburgh William Nelson, surgeon and Calvinistic Methodist,* who had been trained for the Anglican ministry. On Barclay's return, Nelson was sent to strengthen new Berean churches at Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, and Brechin. Barclay himself visited his churches extensively and wrote numerous works expounding the distinctive elements in his otherwise Calvinistic theology. After his death the Berean church in Edinburgh flourished for twenty-five years under James Donaldson, originally pastor of the church in London, then in Dundee. When he died, the Berean church in Edinburgh split and, like the other Berean churches, eventually merged with the Congregationalists.

See J. Campbell, The Berean Church-Especially in Edinburgh (1937), offprint from the Proceedings of the Scottish Church History Society.