In the summer of 1938, George MacLeod set sail from Glasgow for Iona with 13 men, all dressed in navy blue outfits, to start the Iona Community: seven laymen, three probationer ministers and three divinity students. One of the young ministers was 25-year-old Uist MacDonald.

When George MacLeod planned the Iona Community, he was minister of Glasgow's Govan Old Parish. Just across the Clyde, Uist MacDonald's father Alexander, later to be Moderator of the General Assembly, was minister of St Columba's Gaelic Church in St Vincent Street.

MacLeod's vision of a community of ministers and laymen, rebuilding the Abbey precincts, and also on parishes on the mainland fired MacDonald

In the years of George MacLeod's leadership of the Iona Community, what would now be described as MacDonald's laid-back style balanced MacLeod's tendency to storm the gates of the kingdom of God three times a day. Where MacLeod was direct and romantic, MacDonald was circuitous and prosaic. But he so loved and admired MacLeod that he was allowed by the great man to make jokes at his expense - not something MacLeod permitted many to do. But in those days not many of the jokes made about MacLeod were devoid of malice, as Uist MacDonald's always were, for they were born of his huge admiration for George MacLeod.

While over the years, and certainly in more recent times, the Iona Community attracted people who saw it as a useful pressure group or wanted to turn it into a focus for a single issue such as nuclear disarmament, Uist MacDonald represented the original vision of a community rooted in the parish ministry of the church.

Uist MacDonald was committed not only to the Iona Community but to the island of Iona where he rented a house in the village street so that even on Iona his involvement with the Community was not an isolated commitment, but rooted in the life of the village. It is not insignificant that he and his wife Pat named their first child after the island.

In his eighties he was still to be seen at the annual Community Week on Iona, striding around in his shorts, his feet bare and his spare frame looking fitter than his years should have allowed, talking still to volunteer workers about the early days of the community which had inspired him.

MacDonald was educated at the Primary School in Glassary, where his father was minister, and then at Ardrossan Academy and Hillhead High School in Glasgow. He studied arts and divinity at Glasgow University and then spent three years as an assistant in the Govan Old Parish which George MacLeod had left to found the Iona Community. After brief war service with the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens he went in 1941 to be minister of the four-year-old St Nicholas Church in Cardonald. In 1950 he moved to the large congregation of Wallacetown in Dundee. MacDonald was a natural pastor, if not a natural inhabitant of Scotland's east coast, and in Dundee he was not only a very faithful parish minister, but a wise mentor to many young ministers in a large presbytery. MacDonald took an active and sometimes typically mischievous part in the presbytery's work, and one minister, then in his first charge,

remembers MacDonald advising him that if he wanted to ruffle the feathers of the presbytery's establishment, he shouldn't make speeches containing statements which could be refuted but to try to concentrate on asking awkward questions to which the answers might not be immediately available.

In 1971 he moved to the parish of Aberdalgie and

Dupplin in Perthshire, later expanded to include the parish of Forteviot. He retired in 1984.

In the late 1970s MacDonald became convener of the General Assembly's Committee on Unions and Readjustments, whose job it was, at a time of declining membership, to rationalise and reduce the number of parishes. When his term of office was over, the General Assembly was told that ''his leadership, his determination to listen patiently to all points of view, and his sensitive handling of difficult situations have all been of immense benefit''. He was a wise, shrewd, minister and a delightful raconteur.

Uist MacDonald is survived by his wife Patricia, a son and two daughters, one of whom, Iona, is married to the Rev Leith Fisher, minister of Wellington Church in Glasgow.

Rev William Uist MacDonald; born January 19, 1913, died August 30, 2004.