Saturday, March 20, 2010

A message from North Carolina

(NB: If you're reading this on Facebook, the original post is from my blog). A few days ago I was astounded to receive the following note on Facebook. The irony is that for a good few months now I've been thinking about deleting my Facebook page because people keep inviting me to play games or join causes that I don't really have the time or interest to get involved in, and so rather than risk offence I figured that shutting it down would be a good move.

Then, out of the blue, a complete stranger called Sharon Stewart Wilkerson emailed me from Asheville in North Carolina. For those of you familiar with the content of this blog and the kinds of projects I invest my spare time in, you'll have some idea of how blown away I was by this (reproduced below, unedited, with Sharon's permission):



I ran across your personal blog yesterday while searching for more information about the Ulster Scots language, and found a treasure trove. I ended up looking at your other sites and got such a blessing!

My Granny was born and reared on a farm outside Bushmills, County Antrim, and was converted at the age of fifteen in an evangelistic meeting. Her parents were saved through an evangelist at an earlier period. My grandfather, John Stewart, was born in Lurgan and was an orphan by the age of seven. My grandparents emigrated separately to Scotland. My grandfather was saved there and met my Granny. They married in 1904. My dad, James Alexander Stewart, was born in Glasgow and was "fitball daft". The Lord saved him when he was a teen and he became a boy preacher. He preached all over the British Isles as a boy. He met my American mom in Budapest, Hungary where she was ministering under the Southern Baptist. My parents travelled so I did not get to spend a lot of time with them. Dad also founded mission organizations and wrote many books.

I say all that to explain that I when I was with them, Dad read me stories about the Covenanters, and told me all about Revival. (He saw Revival under his ministry as a young preacher in Europe.) He taught me Scottish history and all about the great Scottish preachers etc etc. I also got to spend time with my parents during their meetings. Dad especially loved open air meetings.

I saw that you had "Fu an skailin" listed on your Sacred Scots Songs page. My husband and I still teach it to children along with "Come Awa the Noo". My family knew Seth and Bessie Sykes, as well as "Uncle Charlie' Main. Uncle Charlie was a mentor to Dad and I remember him even participating with Dad in the open air on the beach at Bangor as part of the Bangor Missionary Convention in 1965. Willie Mullan, Ian Paisley, WP Nicholson, Stanley Mawhinney, Herbert Mateer, and many more were part of the dear ones in Ireland.

Well, you see I got carried away! Thanks for posting all the articles, songs, poems etc. I enjoyed them so much! My husband and I live and minister in the mountains outside Asheville, NC, where the people have a lot of Scots Irish in their heritage. (The music!)

Well, "I'll Fly Away" now!

In Christ,



A lot of stuff has been written over the past 15 years or so about Ulster and America, much of it about centuries-old Presidents (whose Ulster links, in some cases, are pretty thin), much of it repetitive and very far removed from the common cultures of ordinary people. Sharon's email shows that there is still, alive and well today, a common evangelical faith and culture which spans Scotland, Ulster and America, and that some of the wee songs that I grew up with here in the Ards Peninsula, which had been taught to my parents and grandparents by the "oul Scotch preachers" like Seth Sykes, Charlie Main and Jock Troup, are still being sung today in the mountains of North Carolina.