Obituary: Rev Lawson Brown, MA, minister

Rev Lawson Brown MA: Church of Scotland minster who served in St Andrews, Partick and the Bahamas
Rev Lawson Brown MA: Church of Scotland minster who served in St Andrews, Partick and the Bahamas
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Born: 23 June, 1931, in Motherwell. Died: 8 April, 2015, in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, aged 83

In a life devoted to the Kirk, the Rev Lawson Brown served three parishes with great loyalty and commitment. He was the first minister to hold the appointment at Freeport in the Bahamas, where he established a bustling community and nurtured the church with a special imagination and care. Later appointments included parishes at Partick in Glasgow and St Leonard’s in St Andrews.

His close connection with the Kirk in St Andrews was delightfully remembered when he was made Minister Emeritus of St Leonard’s Church. He remains a fondly remembered figure in Fife where he was a much-loved pastor and a strong supporter of many local events and charities.

He was also a keen golfer and a popular figure in St Andrews.

Although he joined Holy Trinity in St Andrews after his retirement his funeral was conducted by Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald at St Leonard’s.

Lawson Richard Brown was born and educated in Motherwell and initially read for an arts degree at Glasgow University. After obtaining his degree, however, he decided to train for the ministry at Trinity College.

After being inducted in 1958 he served as an assistant to the Rev Ron Blakey at Bellshill West. Lawson’s first charge was at Partick Anderson in Glasgow, where he stayed for eight years.

He was appointed by the Church of Scotland’s Overseas Council in 1969 to the new church in Freeport. It was an inspired appointment and Lawson’s skills as a communicator and leader proved invaluable.

There was no building in existence and the congregation, when Lawson arrived, was well under 100. The church, which proudly described itself as “The Kirk” (but helpfully adds in its published material, “simply means church in Scots”), is the only Presbyterian congregation on Grand Bahama and Brown’s commitment to the project was total.

The Church of Scotland in Nassau provided financial assistance for the first year and Lawson overcame many unexpected challenges with his customary humour and determination.

The building of the church was somewhat delayed when the property market in the Bahamas experienced a serious recession.

Despite these setbacks Lawson guided the church through its first years with resolve. The church and a church hall were built and the congregation grew under his stewardship.

After his three-year term ended the General Assembly recognised his stalwart work by mentioning in the minutes: “the Rev Lawson’s successor will inherit a small but enthusiastic young congregation with great potential.”

On returning to Scotland Lawson was appointed to Lylesland Parish in Paisley and succeeded the Rev Donald MacDonald who had spent more than 40 memorable years at the kirk. After eight years Lawson moved to Fife, where from 1980 he was the minister at the coastal parish of St Leonard’s. It was a time of much internal reorganisation of Fife churches and many rural parishes were being merged with congregations in nearby towns.

Initially, St Leonard’s was linked with Cameron and Largoward but that was altered in 1983 with the latter being connected to St Monan’s.

Brown was keen to foster and encourage St Leonard’s links with Cameron Parish Church and did much to encourage various projects for both the young and the elderly.

Brown built up a most harmonious relationship with the distinguished minister at Cameron – the Rev Dr William McIntyre – and is fondly remembered by his parishioners for his generous spirit and ability to help others in difficult times.

The Rev Lawson Brown is survived by wife Sheila whom he married in 1962.