Brethren Archive

William Corrie Johnston

Born: 1848
Died: 14th August 1910
Appears in Cronin / Congleton / Lowe / Newman / Bellett / McAdam / Soltau / Maynard / Kingscote / Deck / Pollock Family Tree

Intro, Biographical Information, Notes etc:

W Corrie Johnstone is an interesting case of someone whose sympathies with the ideas of non-denominationalism espoused by the Brethren eventually led to his joining them. At first a Presbyterian,  he was a freelance evangelist in the late 1870s and early 1880s, having declined ordination or a licence to preach as a Presbyterian, ‘preferring to hold himself free for evangelistic work’.  He took gospel missions in Victoria, South Australia, and NSW, and in 1876 started producing Words of Grace, a newspaper with evangelistic news, improving stories, children’s items, and gospel messages – intended for handing out on visitation or to contacts, as much as for Christians’ edification. He settled in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the early 1880s, and continued in evangelism with Brethren, mostly within the Exclusive branch, and in writing tracts against Freethought or about Brethren church matters.

However, when in 1876 Johnstone took part in a meeting where Harrison Ord and Douglas Russell baptised by immersion thirty converts from their mission, he was at pains to point out that, although he was happy to wish them well, ‘he [did] not want to be identified with the “Brethren”. At that point his position [was] that of an evangelist willing to cooperate with other Christians of any or all denominations in doing work for Christ.’ 182 Clearly he was already attracted to the principles of fellowship with all Christians espoused by the more ‘open’ Brethren, but not yet affiliated with them.

From "‘Wandering stars’ The impact of British evangelists in Australia" by Elisabeth Wilson

Tony said ...
Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 : 09:25
Tom said ...
From Australian Autobiographical Narratives:

Echoes ofgrace: with a narrative offiveyears
evangelistic work in the colonies. Melbourne:
W. Corric Johnston, n.d., 182 pp.
The book opens with a collection of exemplars,
many featuring stories of the goldfields and of
shipwrecks, drawn from other writers and from
Johnstons own experience. The volume
concludes (pp. 133-82) with his reminiscences
of his work in the colonies. Johnston emigrated
first of all to New Zealand, where he was a
successful evangelist for the Presbyterian
Church in the Duncdin area. He moved to
Victoria for his health in 1875, and,
concluding divinity studies with the
Presbyterian Church in Melbourne, began to
preach at Geclong. His success at winning
converts eventually led him to concentrate on
itinerant evangelism in Melbourne and
Victorian country districts. He also began to
publish Words of Grace, a monthly publication
which began with a circulation of 20O-300
and soon expanded to 11 000. In 1877
Johnston travelled to Adelaide to preach there
and in the up-country centres of Mallala, Two
Wells, Kapunda and Clare. He returned to
Melbourne and assisted the visiting evangelist,
Doctor Summcrvillc. then travelled overland to
Sydney where he preached in January 1878.
He also travelled to Queensland with Doctor
D.W. Huddlestonc to preach and to increase
circulation of his magazine, returning to
Sydney in February 1879. Others of Johnston's
published works refer to his Australian
experiences, notably Life abundantly ([1878]), a
narrative of his personal religious experience.
Saturday, Feb 27, 2021 : 16:49
Tom said ...
Would be interested to see his book "Echoes of grace : with a narrative of five years evangelistic work in the colonies " Appears a copy exists in the National Library of New Zealand, no other references.
Saturday, Feb 27, 2021 : 16:50
Marty said ...

There is an excerpt from his magazine, "Words of Grace" in the 1877 issue of "The Christian's Pathway of Power" pp.236-240. "There were only 3 volumes of "Words of Grace" published from Oct. 1876 - Sept. 1879.

Sunday, Feb 28, 2021 : 04:02
Marty said ...
From the Ashburton Guardian Newspaper Archives, August 16, 1910.
WELLINGTON, Mr. William Corrie Johnston, a well-known evangelist, died somewhat unexpectedly at his residence on August 14, Roy Street, Newtown, early on Sunday, age sixty-two years. He had been a resident of the dominion for about twenty-eight years and was a native of Scotland. He worked with Sankey and Moody in America and the United Kingdom. Mr. Johnston laboured very successfully throughout the dominion, especially in Dunedin, Port Chalmers and Christchurch. On one occasion, he had made such a deep impression with his preaching in Port Chalmers, that a special train was put on from Dunedin for the benefit of those who desired to hear him. In Christchurch, at the Theatre Royal, he came into prominence for his exposure of the teachings of A. B. Worthington. He was a man thoroughly devoted to the evangelical cause, in which he had practically spent his lifetime. One of his addresses entitled “God’s Ledger," for businessmen, was particularly in request. For some time, he had been engaged in writing a series of books upon the special phase of work which had occupied his lifetime. Mr. Johnston, who leaves a widow and three children, had only been ill a fortnight. He was well-known in Australia, where he conducted missions.
Sunday, Feb 28, 2021 : 04:15

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