THE SOUTH LONDON PRESS,
Saturday, September 6, 1890.
The Open-Air Mission.
Than Mr. Gawin Kirkham (secretary of the Open-Air Mission) few, perhaps, of those connected with religious and missionary work South of the Thames are better known. The regular readers of the South London Press are not unacquainted with many facts connected with the usefulness, zeal, and thorough devotion of this band of workers, amongst whom may be numbered several hundred open-air preachers, residing in the teeming centres of population from Woolwich to Putney. Unless we an mistaken, the founder of the mission himself (Mr. John M'Gregor — "Rob Roy") is at present, and has been for some time, entitled to be designated a “South Londoner.” Owing to the continued ill-health of "Rob Roy," Mr. Kirkham has had to bear the burden of the duties in the superintendence and general working of the mission for a long time past. In January. 1856 Mr. Kirkham came to London, and offered himself to the Church of England Scripture-Readers” Society. In the following April he was appointed, as reader in the parish of St. Paul's, Bermondsey. At that time the incumbent was the Rev. William Duncan Long. With this gentleman he remained four years—three in St. Paul's, and one in the mother church of St. Mary, Bermondsey. It should be noted that Mr. Long was himself an open-air preacher, and each summer held outdoor services in the principal parts of the parish.
In the early portion of 1860 Mr. Kirkham was appointed secretary of the Open-Air Mission, in succession to Mr. John Wilde Taylor. This responsible post he has held ever since, with the exception of an interregnum (if the word may be used) of four and a half years, during which time he acted as secretary of the widely-known Mildmay Park Conference Hall.
In the course of these many years of active work (as our columns of last week show) Mr. Kirkham has, in the pursuit of his objects and duties, visited not only several portions of the United Kingdom, but various parts of the globe. This may truly be said of the Open-Air Mission—it has proved itself a magical power, a pervading influence, and an abiding source of blessing wherever it has set its foot—and in no place has it so firmly established itself as in South London.
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