The long ocean trip from Australia to California was uneventful but much enjoyed by Mr. McClure. He arrived safely in San Francisco and received a royal welcome in the McIntyre home. He had now completed the journey around the world in about six years and was much encouraged by the Lord’s favor to him.
His children in the faith and the assemblies in California rejoiced greatly at his return among them and soon he was busy as usual holding nightly meetings. At Christmas, the annual conference was held in Los Angeles; numbers were larger than usual and one who was present at that season wrote: “Good wholesome ministry was given by W. J. McClure, assisted by local brethren.” They had a very profitable time together and it was very cheering to Brother McClure to see those gifts from the risen Lord being exercised, as he listened with pleasure to some of his younger brethren opening up the Word of God to the saints.
At New Year’s in 1910 another conference was held in Monrovia and again Mr. McClure was the only preacher. A large company gathered. Many from Los Angeles, Pomona, and other places were present to hear what the Lord had to say to them.
His messages were reported as most helpful at both conferences, and there was a very happy spirit manifested and hearty fellowship was enjoyed among the Lord’s people.
Leaving the south in February and going north, visiting Oakland, Portland and Everett, he found that in each place there were hungry souls and an ear for the Word. His next stop was Vancouver where he attended the conference at Easter. The assemblies in that large city had grown during the past years and a large number were present at the conference. Seasonable ministry was reported to have been given by several well known servants of Christ, including Mr. McClure. After the conference, he began a series of meetings, continuing a few weeks. Good interest was manifested, which deepened and increased, with blessing following the ministry of the Word in the Gospel and to the saints. The hall was filled to capacity, the people coming from all parts of the city.
From Vancouver he went to the Canadian prairies, taking in a number of conferences and seeking to help little companies of saints at Moose Jaw, Wilbert, Edmonton, Calgary, Lethridge, and Coal Creek. He spent three months among these scattered saints in Western Canada and then returned to Vancouver.
Mr. McClure now left for the east and was present at the conference held in Dutch Kills, Long Island, New York on November 5. One writing of those meetings said, “It was good in every sense of the word, harmony prevailed from the kitchen to the platform.” There Brother McClure met his old friend and fellow laborer of earlier days, Mr. W. P. Douglas, and they had part in the ministry together. Mr. John Smith and Mr. Stack were also present and all these brethren ministered the Word to edification. Mr. McClure gave an outstanding address that day on the Levites in their service in the Tabernacle, pointing out the work of the three families.
First, Merari, whose name means “bitter.” His work was concerned with the silver sockets, or the foundations, with the boards covered with gold, and their tenons fitting into the sockets making the walls of the Tabernacle. He referred to this as bringing before us the work of the Evangelist, for Paul spoke of himself “as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation.” (1 Cor. 3:10).
Second, Gershon, who had charge of the curtains, coverings and pins; his name means assembly, thus pointing out the nature of his services.
Third, Kohath, who had to carry the holy vessels of the sanctuary. Oxen were provided for the sons of Merari and Gershon to bear the burdens across the desert, but not so in the service of Kohath. They carried the vessels upon their shoulders and felt the weight of their precious load.
The preacher used these three sons of Levi as setting forth the three outstanding gifts from the risen Lord for the edifying of the body of Christ, the evangelist, the pastor, and the teacher.
The Lord’s people left that conference very much helped and for many days it was spoken of as a time of real blessing.
Although Mr. McClure had been absent from the sphere of his early labors in Ontario for about seventeen years, except for occasional visits as opportunity offered, yet his interest, prayers, and practical fellowship with his brethren laboring for the Lord there had never ceased, and he rejoiced greatly when new territories were being opened up for the gospel.
During those years the work of the Lord had prospered, spreading throughout the United States and Canada. New assemblies were planted and those already in existence increased in numbers.
The early conferences held at Hamilton, Toronto, Orillia, and some other places had proven to be such a help and blessing that in many other centers the Holiday Season began to be taken advantage of and three day conference meetings were arranged for, generally beginning or finishing on a holiday. These special meetings, were always preceded by a prayer meeting the night before.
Circulars were usually sent out to other assemblies inviting fellow saints to come and share the good things from the Word of God. Visitors attending were freely entertained in the homes of local Christians, and these were mostly taxed to their utmost capacity but the believers looked upon it as a great privilege to entertain the people of God.
Great simplicity marked these gatherings—no human arrangements, not even in the larger conferences when over one thousand believers would come together. The conveners often did not know what preachers were coming until they arrived for the prayer meeting. There was no chairman further than one of the brethren who gave out the announcements and read the requests for prayer. The meetings were generally at 10:00 A.M., 2:30 P.M., and 7:30 P.M. After a hymn was sung, requests for prayer were read, then a season of waiting on the Lord in prayer, for about half an hour, when a number of brethren poured out their hearts to God, after which two or three brethren upon whom God had laid the burden of the message, rose up one after the other, sometimes with much fear and trembling, and gave searching ministry that often has the audience in tears. After each meeting was close meals were provided freely for all present and Christian fellowship was enjoyed.
On the Lord’s day morning, visitors from other assemblies, with the local Christians, all remembered the Lord together at the remembrance feast. But while these conferences were convened especially for believers, the Gospel was a feature in each. From time to time and especially on Lord’s day evening the glad tidings were heralded, and seldom did a conference pass with out souls being saved and backsliders restored. The ministry of such brethren as Mr. Donald Ross, Mr. Donald Munro, Mr. John Smith, Mr. James Campbell, and Mr. Wm. Matthews, and that of other well known servants of Christ, was long remembered for its searching, sanctifying character in edifying, exhorting, and comforting the people of God. This gave spiritual tone to the assemblies that kept them separate from the world.
This same simple order is still maintained in many places and while there is an acknowledged lack of the power and freshness that marked the conferences in those early days, yet the work of the Lord goes on and there is reason for thankfulness that the Shepherd’s voice is still heard when His people gather to hear His Word.