Rev John Macdonald

Church of Scotland minister

Born: 31 March, 1915, at Brenish, Isle of Lewis

Died: 2 July, 2002, aged 87

JOHN Macdonald was born at Brenish, on the Island of Lewis, the third child and only son of John and Murdina Macdonald. His father was a crofter and fisherman and also a lay missionary. John was educated locally, learning English when he went to primary school.

His secondary education began at the Nicholson Institute in Stornoway and continued in Sutherland and Skye, where his father held lay missionary appointments, and concluded at Keil School, Dumbarton.

From school, he proceeded to Glasgow University and thence to the Parish of Kilmallie as an assistant to the minister there. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the Royal Air Force as a pilot in South Africa, India, Burma and Malaya and gained the Air Efficiency Award.

On demobilisation he matriculated at Aberdeen University where he studied arts and divinity and had a highly distinguished academic record. In Divinity, he achieved distinction in all subjects, was a prizeman in church history and won the Lumsden and Sachs Scholarship awarded to the most distinguished outgoing student.

On 17 November, 1949, he was inducted to the charge of St Ninian's Lochee, in the Presbytery of Dundee, where he was to remain as minister until his retirement in 1985. Throughout his ministry he maintained his Royal Air Force links through the Volunteer Reserve at Scone, as chaplain to No 3511 City of Dundee Fighter Control Unit and the 2450 (Dudhope) Squadron Air Training Corps.

While a devoted and dedicated pastor to his people in Lochee, John Macdonald also became involved in the work of presbytery, synod and General Assembly. He convened a number of presbytery committees, served as moderator of the presbytery in 1969-70 and acted as clerk to the Synod of Perth and Angus from 1977 to 1992. He served also on a number of Assembly committees. He was active for many years in the Dundee Highland Society and was in regular demand as a Gaelic preacher.

In terms of wider church policy, he had a particular interest in the maintenance of the ministry. He believed firmly that the labourer was worthy of his hire and that the church would not be well served by a ministry burdened with financial worries. While recognising that nobody would ever enter the ministry for the money, he took the view that if the church were to attract men and women of ability into the ministry, then priority should be given to ensuring an adequate level of support for them. Perhaps not surprisingly, under his influence and that of like-minded colleagues, there was a time when Dundee stipends were the highest in the Church of Scotland.

In 1943 he married Eileen O’Flynn, who predeceased him by 17 months.

He is survived by their five children, the eldest of whom, Finlay, is currently Moderator of the General Assembly.

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