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Rev Tom Morton

Minister;

Born: December 14, 1919; Died: January 2, 2013.

The Rev Tom Morton, who has died aged 93, was minister at Stonelaw Church in Rutherglen for 29 years and was twice elected Moderator of the Presbytery of Glasgow, where he was a greatly respected contributor to debates, and a wise source of advice for younger ministers.

He was born in Kilmarnock and educated at the Grange School and Kilmarnock Academy, which has produced a considerable number of distinguished ministries, not least former Moderators of the general Assembly Andrew McLellan and Bill Hewitt. He graduated in arts at the University of Glasgow and then trained for the ministry at Trinity College. He spent some of his years in divinity as assistant minister at Newlands South Church. Before being ordained he was locum in Kilmarnock churches, and from 1943-44 served with the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens in Orkney.

In January 1945, he was ordained and inducted to the West Port parish in Hawick, and in 1951, shortly after his marriage to Janette, he became only the third minister of St Nicholas Church in the then growing area of Cardonald. He stayed there for six years before moving to his principal and hugely effective ministry in Stonelaw Church.

It was a congregation which had come into the Church of Scotland from the fiercely independent United Presbyterian tradition.

Mr Morton's natural diplomacy and reconciling nature, allied to his strong commitment to the Church of Scotland guaranteed a hugely effective ministry. After he retired, he became a part-time pastoral assistant at Burnside Parish Church.

In 1988, he became convener of the church's Board of Social Responsibility, whose remit not only covered the supervision of the Church of Scotland's homes for the elderly and hostels providing community care, but also reported on moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality. When he retired as convener in 1985, the General Assembly recorded that he had been convener at a time of changing trends in social work and had been at the forefront of the development of the board's work into new fields of care.

He was a licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music, and for several years he undertook the speech training of candidates for the ministry at Trinity College. He was a frequent amateur reciter, singer and actor. Very active in the Council of Christians and Jews, he sang in what was a mainly Jewish choir as well as being a member and later compere of the Glasgow choir, Sounds International, which performs to raise money for charity.

Before the rules governing membership of the committee to nominate the moderator of the General Assembly were changed to no longer to include all living former moderators, Dr Andrew Herron tried unsuccessfully to have Mr Morton nominated. This was a matter of real regret to many because Tom Morton's graciousness would have brought distinction to the chair of the Assembly, and his lively interest in people would have delighted those he would have met on moderatorial tours. There are however those in the Presbytery of Glasgow who would say that to have been its moderator twice was a much greater distinction than chairing the General Assembly once.

Mr Morton's wife Netta died in 1990. They had no children.

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