Edinburgh City Mission

A history from 1832 – 2010

By Paul James-Griffiths

On the 1st March 1832, eight gentlemen met together in the shop of Messrs Young and Miller, 375 High Street, to confer with David Nasmyth in regard to the formation of a City Mission in Edinburgh.

Annual Report, 1895, p.101

Thus began Edinburgh City Mission. It was probably the 19th city mission to be formed by Nasmith, the first having been in Glasgow, the second in Dublin, and probably 16 city missions before Edinburgh City Mission (ECM) in America (ibid., p.10). However, ECM is ranked now as the second oldest surviving city mission in Britain.

As with all city missions, Nasmith set out a clear vision for ECM, because “without a vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

The ECM Vision

Attached to every Annual Report was a clear constitution, parts of which read:

Article II: The design of the Society shall be to carry the Gospel, irrespective of denominational distinction, more extensively among the inhabitants of this city, by visits for religious conversation and reading the Scriptures, by meetings for prayer and Christian instruction, – by stimulating all persons to a regular attendance upon the preaching of the Gospel, – by increasing Scriptural education, through the medium of Sabbath or Infant Schools, or otherwise, – by the formation of loan libraries, – and adoption of such other means, as the Managers may judge important to attain the designs of the Society.

Annual Report: 1834 – 1835, p.3

Instructions to the Agents (missionaries):

1st: Your business is to visit the inhabitants of the district assigned to you, for the purpose of bringing them to an acquaintance with salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, and by doing them good by every means in your power…..the sole object of the Mission being to bring sinners to the Saviour.

Your work is awfully important: you have to deal with immortal souls, many of whom may never have an opportunity of hearing the Gospel but from you, and whose eternal destiny may depend upon the message which you deliver to them: Be faithful, be simple, keep the Lord Jesus continually before your own mind, and commend Him and His finished work to the people. Never forget the awful possibility suggested by the Apostle, – that after one has preached the Gospel, he himself may ‘become a cast-away.’

Go forth daily to your work with your hearts lifted up to God for the assistance and direction of His Holy Spirit, relying upon his promise for wisdom and strength, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist. Let the glory of God, and the salvation of souls, be your chief – your only end.

ibid., p.4


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