PM World 7 Feb 1907 p89
MANXLAND has given several ministers to our Church-Charles Lace, the blind preacher, Murry Wilson, Edward Quine, F. N. Shimmin, John Kinnish, and J. H. Cretney.
In Francis Neil Shimmin we have a worthy representative of the Manx character. Scots on his mother's side-still Celtic--Mr. Shimmin has the passion of the Celtic race without being " dour and din "; he has nothing of the sullen and the sombre. Strength of character, blended with a fine sympathy shot through with a cheerful disposition, mark him off from the ordinary man. As a boy he was Religiously inclined, and this was- nurtured by the godly masters of Thomas Street Wesleyan Day School, Douglas. He, surrendered to Christ in the Hedderson and Geddes revival, and received his first class ticket dated May, 1868. Mr. Shimmin was not left long without work. In preparation for the preachers' plan he received a note to accompany Mr. W. Proctor, who placed his library at his disposal, and had much to do with shaping his religious character. From the first Mr. Shimmin was an acceptable preacher and successful in winning souls. His first converts were in a cottage service Mrs. Corrin's, of Onchan when he had the joy of leading five to Christ. Such proof did the young preacher give of his fitness that he was recommended for the ministry, gave up good business prospects, and entered the Sunderland Training Institute in 1873. His college companions and life-long friends were found in the Revs. J. Ritson and R. Hind. Mr Shimmin has travelled the whole of his ministry in Lancashire-Birkenhead, Barrow, Manchester Second and Third, Earlestown, Southport, Bolton, Liverpool, Middleton, Nelson, and Blackburn. He has put his best into his Circuits, never depending upon sensational methods which produce surface results, but has sought to do solid work at the cost of much sacrifice. While in Southport he inaugurated a new movement, and secured the site on which the splendid church has recently been built. Mr. Shimmin is also trustee for the college, and had to do with advising Mr. Hartley in the securing of Professor Peake. The pulpit receives his first attention, and his sermons and speeches are rich from the stores of his wide reading and keen observation. With a choice gift of ready, ringing utterance, few can more effectively sway an audience and gain an immediate decision. Mr. Shimmin has also a literary gift of no mean quality, and we regret that he hats not used it more: His character sketches of George Matheson, the blind preacher, Hugh Macmillan, and Dr. Whyte, in the " Aldersgate," some years ago, were fine types of literary purity and strength, and won from the subjects enthusiastic compliments. George Matheson wrote: " It is the finest panegyric I have ever received, and in point of literary form it is written with a mastery hand.''
Rev Edward Quine
The Loch Parade Church originated from Wellington, through a process of shedding. Wellington Street Society was growing rapidly, especially after the Henderson and Geddes revival; so that in 1872 there was a. strong desire for some improvement. in the chapel in which they worshipped. This was particularly so on the part of the young men, who wished. to be not one whit behind other Churches. The Society was called together, and the majority agreed to a scheme laid before them for the alteration and renovation of the old chapel at a cost of about £600. At the Leaders' Meeting, however, several of the Trustees demurred, not from any determined opposition to progress, but from overt cautiousness. Once more the young men came forward and offered to share with the older men the responsibility of Trusteeship. Before, this could be done, a new Trust Deed was required. Nothing daunted, the young men moved for a new deed, which was straight away prepared by Sir James Gell, and brought to the, meeting for signatures. Much to the surprise of many, the Trustees refused either to sign the new deed with the younger men or proceed with the alterations of the chapel. This was a mistake; but it is easy to be wise after the event, and none swore clearly afterwards than the Trustees themselves that they had erred. What should have been done was, while the desire for enlargement prevailed, to have opened a new mission in another part of the towns which would not only have secured work for the abounding energy of the Church, but have strengthened our position beyond what it is today.
When the younger men saw that they could not gain the consent of the Trustees to-move forward, they took matters into their own hands, and together with the superintendent minister, Joseph Morton, determined to branch out, and took St. James's Hall, in Athol Street, in which to hold services. They had no money and the rent of £20 per year and cost of furnishing come largely from private purses. The new mission prospered; so much so that they began to look round for a site, on which to build a chapel. On the shore land was being reclaimed from the Bay and put up for sale by auction for building purposes. Their hearts were set on three plots-two with a reserve of £200 each, and a third, a corner plot, £300. There were no funds in hand, but a friend came forward and offered to secure :the land and hand it over to them Then they were ready to build. The offer was accepted, and the land was bought by Mr. W. Kelly, and enclosed by a wall to keep out the sea, for the promenade was not then built-in fact, few houses on the front. It was s great undertaking for a small Society without money, and once at least their hearts quailed. It was when a great storm swept the sea over the wall they had built and swamped their new site. Had it not been: for two of the Trustees who held out, they would have retraced their steps and resold the land. Their courage again rallied, especially when they remembered that the very site which they had secured was where John Butcher had stood to preach on the shore, when he came to mission Douglas. I am told by one of the original members of Loch Parade that this was decisive; they felt that the ground had he,en consecrated; they could never draw back; their faith became strong; they must go forward. And forward they went; and God made a way through the sea of their difficulties. The building fund was commenced and a bazaar held, which produced £300; two years after a similar effort brought in a second £300 and in the August of 1877 the foundation stones of Loch Parade Church were laid. The chapel was built on two plots, at a cost of £4,000, and when finished there was a debt of £2,500. The vacant plot, it was hoped, would be reserved for additional school accommodation, and it is to be regretted that the Trustees were not able to hold it; but when they were able to sell it for £2,000 and thus be relieved of a great financial burden; they thought it wise to dispose of it.
When Loch Parade was built it was one of the most beautiful , and up-to-date churches in our Connexion, and even today, after thirty years, it will compare favourably with many newer structures. Its splendid position on the promenade has been the envy of many. While the chapel was building, a visitor from the mainland asked someone, "What are they building on that corner plot ?" "A Primitive Methodist chapel," was the answer: "What! a Primitive Methodist Chapel!- Why, it is good enough for an hotel!" The time has gone by, thank God, when the Lord's House, which is the Home of the People, is put in the back street, and we are putting into practice our belief "that no site is too prominent, no building is too good." Some ten years after the chapel was opened, a gentleman connected with a popular theatre asked if the Trustees would consider an offer of £10,000 for the land and building.
It was an audacious venture, but the faith, foresight, and energy of the Trustees have long since been justified; a strong church has been built, a. large Sunday school gathered, and this beautiful House of Prayer has been the birthplace of many souls. We cannot speak too highly of the devout men and women to whom Loch Parade was the dearest spot on earth. We value most what costs us most. Every stone was precious, hardly bought with tears and prayers and sacrifice. Alderman T. Keig, J.P., drew the plans and superintended the building without fee. Alderman W. Proctor, J.P., said Mr. W. Kelly (Imperial), with Mr. Keig, formed. the building committee, and freely gave of their time and money. Nor must we forget Robert Contain, Willie Cain, Harry Cain, W. Kissack, Thomas Cain, John and Thomas Callow, J. Royston, and J. Kinley, and the saintly women - Mrs. Costain, Mrs. Keig, Mrs. Royston, and Mrs. Proctor, who counted no trouble too great if they could but serve their beloved Church.
Onchan, a. village two miles on the north side of Douglas, had missions and a service held for many years in the cottage of Mrs. Corrin. A good work was proceeded with in Douglas; the chapels at Laxey and Baldhoon were built; it was time now to strike for Onchan. The difficulty had been to secure a piece of land for a chapel; it was owned by those who thought they did God service to refuse help to our people. The gentleman who was the principal landowner died, and his son, who became possessor, was more favourably inclined to us. The Rev. W. Harris, who was then superintendent, and Mr. W. Kelly (Imperial) went to see him. " Mr. Callow,'' said Mr. Kelly, " will you sell our people a piece of land for a chapel? They worship, and have worshipped for years in a little cottage." "Yes," he readily answered. :" Come up, and we will measure as much as you want." The next day they were up in the village, and according to promise, a large piece of land suitably situated was measured and staked out. "Now about the price?,' asked our deputation. " Will £100 be all right ? " said Mr. Callow; "No," answered Mr. Kelly; "we will give you £90 on condition you give us £10 towards the building fund." This was agreed to, and the land conveyed in due course. A short time after this the owner was, unfortunately, drowned in Douglas Bay. If our people had not secured the land when they did they could not have got it for twenty years, as the heir was only a child.
The site secured, the young men at Loch Parade set to work to help the small society at Onchan to build their chapel. A bazaar was promoted, which raised about half of the probable cost. For a loan the late Mr. Samuel Harris was approached, a strong Anglican. When asked, he remarked "What ! build a Primitive Methodist Chapel! That's the way. When God builds a House of Prayer, the devil puts up a chapel! " Mr. Harris was always allowed his little joke, however, by which he invariably succeeded in amusing himself, and the money was lent Mr. Keig drew the plans free of charge, and the chapel now stands in its own grounds, nestling snugly among the trees, on the roadside just entering the village on the way from Douglas to Laxey.