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Rev Denis Duncan

Minister

Minister

Born: January 10, 1920; Died: January 7, 2014

Rev Denis Duncan, who has died aged 93, was a Church of Scotland minister whose ministry was described by the former moderator the late Very Rev Bill Johnston as a unique one which covered the traditional parish ministry, print, counselling and evangelism of all kinds.

For many years, he contributed Saturday Meditations in the Daily Telegraph. He was also a gentle but firm interviewer on Scottish Television's religious output and was involved in art and theatre at the Edinburgh Festival, where he produced Late Night Songs on the Festival's fringe. For ten years he was editor of the influential British Weekly newspaper when it was owned by the Church of Scotland, and, when it was sold in 1967 he moved to London with the new company which had been formed to purchase it.

He was born in Northumberland. His primary schooling was in Swinton and Slamannan and then he went to George Watson's College in Edinburgh in 1931. After an arts degree at Edinburgh University he studied for the ministry at New College and after just over a year as a locum in Kelso, he was ordained and inducted in 1944 to St Margaret's in Edinburgh's suburban Juniper Green. Five years later he moved to the east end of Glasgow to be the first minister of Trinity-Duke Street Church, which had just been formed by the union of two east end congregations.

In December 1957, he left to become the editor of the British Weekly. Even when its ownership and publication moved to London, the British Weekly had a strong Scottish emphasis. Although the newspaper's influence was less strong than in the days when, for example, the New Testament scholar CH Dodd had his seminal works on Jesus' parables and on the Kingdom of God serialised in it, Rev Duncan ensured the British Weekly's radicalism and ecumenical stance continued. He said of it that "the British Weekly must play a prophetic role by giving a sound Christian judgment on every issue, whether social, moral or ecumenical".

Not long after Rev Duncan moved to London, he left the British Weekly to become a pastoral counsellor with the Westminster Federation of congregations. His writing continued however. He published selections of devotional readings for each day of the year from the writings of William Barclay and of JB Philips, arguably the two most popular religious authors at the time.

He was himself the author of several books including a collection of his Saturday meditations in the Telegraph, Be Still and Know, which was published by the firm Arthur James of which Rev Duncan had become managing director.

He was a member of Crown Court, one of the Church of Scotland congregations in London, served on its Kirk Session and frequently conducted worship, particularly at the weekly Thursday service.

He described himself as a self-appointed critic of a still too clerically centred church. It is doubtful if he owned a dog collar.

His wife Henrietta (Ettie) and daughter Carol predeceased him and he is survived by his son Raymond, his grandchildren Susan, Joanne, Michael and Jonathan, and his great grandchildren Rachel, Louie, Elliot, Emma, Sam and Leah.

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