Born: August 25, 1951; Died: May 23, 2012.
Rev Gordon Savage, who has died at the age of 61, was described by a presbytery colleague as "a dedicated parish minister and an exemplary presbytery clerk".
He was born in Old Kilpatrick and educated at Glasgow Academy and the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated in arts and divinity. After he was licensed by the Presbytery of Dumbarton, he undertook two assistantships, first in Dyce in Aberdeenshire and then at Dunblane Cathedral, with the redoubtable Very Rev John R Gray. In 1977 he was called to the linked parishes of Alomondbank Tibbermore and Logiealmond in Perthshire. It was there he met his wife Mairi whom he married in 1981. It is a measure of how highly he was regarded that when his former teacher at New College in Edinburgh, Professor John Macintyre, was elected moderator of the General Assembly of 1982, and could have chosen any one of hundreds of former students, he chose Mr Savage to be one of his chaplains. In 1984 he became minister of Maxwellton West in Dumfries, and remained there until his death.
Mr Savage had been junior clerk of the Presbytery of Perth and so he had some experience of what the post involved when he became clerk of the Presbytery of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright. Such was his standing among presbytery clerks that when a clerks' forum was formally constituted, he was its second chairman. He guided its meetings with gentle assurance, a style he demonstrated in his presbytery. The depute clerk of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright presbytery, Rev William Hogg, said of Mr Savage, that "he brought more than a knowledge of church law; he had an awareness of the Church of Scotland that came from involvement in the church at all levels, and an instinct for its ethos and practice". He was meticulous in his preparation for presbytery meetings.
Mr Savage was a member of several General Assembly committees, particularly the Assembly arrangements committee. He loved the Assembly's annual meetings, and contributed frequently to debates with wisdom and clarity. Under the system where appeals against presbytery decisions are first investigated by a committee which ascertains which facts are not in dispute before the appeal is heard by a Commission of the Assembly, Mr Savage was a natural choice to head an investigating committee. His investigations were thorough and his presentation of them always fair and concise. To help a commission reach a decision on the future of an Ayrshire congregation, his written report was unusually but very helpfully complemented by a series of slides which he had taken.
In his parish, Mr Savage was particularly concerned to bring young people into the church and involve them in it. When he took an extended period of study leave, he explored the church's involvement with young people in England and Canada. He was an enthusiastic singer, and creatively developed music in worship. Away from his parish, he was an enthusiast of railways and Clyde steamers. He spent two student summers as an assistant purser on them. Mr Savage was also a keen Rotarian, and at the time of his death was the president elect of his branch.
Mr Savage was an ideal Church of Scotland minister, totally committed to his congregation and parish but sharing considerably in the church's wider work and councils. Naturally a traditionalist, he was open to change; always approachable, he was also reserved; meticulous in detail, he had a real sense of vision. He died while the General Assembly was meeting, but he managed on the Sunday before his death to attend the Assembly's Heart and Soul celebration in Princes Street Gardens. He is survived by his wife Mairi and his sons David and Alasdair.
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