Field Preaching

Generally associated with Scotland, field preaching has passed through a number of distinctive phases in the last 450 years. Beginning with George Wishart,* in the early stages of the Reformation struggle, when churches were either not available or inadequate to hold the thronging crowds, it came into its own in the second half of the Covenanting era. It was after the restoration of Charles II, with the subsequent legislation which drove so many ministers from their parishes, that men like John Welsh and John Blackadder, Richard Cameron* and Donald Cargill,* took to the moors and the mountains where great conventicles were held, ten to fifteen thousand people attending, and where the sacraments were celebrated. With the coming of George Whitefield* and the Evangelical Revival, field preaching took on a new dimension, as many as 30,000 people gathering at Cambuslang in 1742 to hear the famous evangelist. Later came the advent of the great Highland open-air communions, which were to remain a characteristic feature of religious life in the north down to our own day. Among recent developments have been Covenanting commemoration conventicles, Easter Sunday hilltop services, and evangelistic rallies. Closely associated with these has been the growth of summer seaside missions, with their services on beach and promenade involving thousands of workers.