Calvin Brown is a former Executive Director of The Renewal Fellowship.
Why a play about seventeenth-century Scottish Covenanters? What do they have to say today? I was stirred by the real life stories of men and women who lived and died for something they believed in. We know that persecution still goes on around the world today and that Christians still suffer and die for their faith. In fact 160,000 Christians will be killed this year for their faith. In Blood Red, the 50-year period was called the "killing times" where 18,000 men and women died for their willingness to stand up and declare their faith in Jesus and their "right" to acknowledge Jesus as the only king. Their faith in God filled them with passion, excitement and determination — perhaps we need more of that today.
There is in almost every country a belief that the blood of the martyrs will cry out for revival in that land and Blood Red is simply their voices being heard once more — our prayer is that their blood will not be forgotten and that they will be the call of revival wherever the play is performed. (Interestingly enough, some Covenanters who were either arrested and not killed made their way abroad or were sent — a lot of them ended up in Ireland and some in North America.)
The Covenant itself was a document drawn up by noblemen and ministers in Scotland promising to maintain "the true religion" and to defend the king. It was an agreement between the people of Scotland and God and has never been broken to this day even though most Scots don't even know about it. It was signed during a time of political and religious unrest in the country with a struggle between Protestant and Catholic faith and the trouble arose when the King in England tried to impose a way of worship and prayer upon the Scots. There were obviously political and social reasons for the unrest at the beginning but that does not detract from the faith and belief that motivated so many people. Churches were closed and ministers banned from preaching, so they went to the hills and held conventicles in the open air — these were classed as treason and to be caught was punishable by imprisonment or even death. Thousands defied the government and met to worship God in the open air.
The Renewal Fellowship gives thanks to God for the wonderful response by many Commissioners to the General Assembly and the ten congregations who hosted the drama Blood Red this spring. The Fellowship undertook this project as their part in the Millennium/125th Anniversary celebrations of our church. It provided congregations with an opportunity to share the gospel with their friends and neighbours. It was as well a way of reminding ourselves of the rich heritage of committed faith which inspires us today to live more boldly for Jesus.
The Fellowship partnered with a drama ministry from Burn's Church, Erin, ON, Admit One, to co-produce it and with Crieff Hills Community for the evening with the Commissioners to Assembly. A western production is now available to congregations in western Canada.