Obituary: Reverend Roy Hill, warm, engaging minister served the Presbytery and General Assembly

Born: 20 April, 1932, in Coleraine, Londonderry. Died: 3 April, 2012, in St Andrews, aged 79

Every year at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland there is a gathering of the ministers who have come into the Kirk from the Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

There has been a very close connection since John Knox’s grandson, Josias Welsh, became minister of Templepatrick, in County Antrim, towards the end of the 16th century. Rev Roy Hill, who has died at the age of 79, was minister of two congregations in the Irish Presbyterian Church before entering the Church of Scotland in 1970.

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Roy Hill was born in Coleraine and went to school there before graduating from Dublin University and the Belfast Presbyterian Theological College. He served an assistantship at First Larne Presbyterian Church and was ordained and inducted to Fermoy, Lismore and Cahir in January 1962.

After five years there he moved to Broadway Church in Belfast. Then, in 1970 he came to Scotland to be minister of St James’s Church in Forfar, which was united seven years later with Forfar West to become the very large congregation of Forfar St Margaret’s in the centre of Forfar.

Mr Hill was a warm, jocular and pleasant minister, who was most at home in social contact with parishioners. He was an engaging preacher who took very seriously his responsibilities to the Presbytery and the General Assembly.

He was Moderator of the Presbytery of Angus, in 1985, and was a member of several Assembly committees. When he was a commissioner to the General Assembly he enjoyed relaxing in the evenings in his Edinburgh club, where many of the leading Assembly figures were members and stayed for the period of the meeting.

In 1988, he went to be minister of the Church of Scotland congregation in Lisbon. It had been without a regular minister for seven years, and he was appointed not only to develop the work in and around Lisbon, but also to serve the pastoral needs of those who had settled there, or came as tourists to Portugal. Shortly after he got there, this work was undertaken in consultation with the Portuguese Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and when he retired it was envisaged that the next appointment would be a part time one, shared with the indigenous Presbyterian denomination.

As the Church of Scotland’s financial situation became increasingly difficult, there were a number of questions raised about the necessity for there to be congregations in several European capitals.

The Kirk’s Board of World Mission insisted they were essential as the single European market grew that the constituencies to be served were international and interdenominational, being defined by the English language and the Reformed tradition and not by Scottishness, the Church of Scotland or Presbyterian allegiance.

It was possibly easier to give meaning to that in places like Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Paris and Rome than in a Lisbon ministry which was specifically identified by the Board of World Mission as concerned principally with tourists.

Roy Hill retired in 1997 and lived in St Andrews. He served the Presbytery there during a number of vacancies, most notably as locum in the historic Holy Trinity Church, of which he was a member. He was also chairman of the East Fife Conservative Association.

He is survived by his wife Pauline, whom he married in 1960, and his children Yvonne, Malcolm and Lesley and their families.

Johnston McKay