Church minister;

Born: January 7, 1915; Died: May 8, 2012.

The Rev Grahame Bailey, who has died at the age of 97, wrote himself into the history of the Church of Scotland on May 23, 1967, when he successfully persuaded the General Assembly to end the barrier which prevented women becoming ministers.

Mr Bailey was born in the Punjab into a missionary family. His grandfather had founded the Mission to Lepers (now known as the Leprosy Mission) in India. For 25 years his father was a missionary in the Punjab, and Mr Bailey was to follow in his footsteps there.

He was educated at Highgate School in London where, by then, his father was teaching Hindi and Urdu in the University of London's School of Oriental Studies.

He graduated in arts and divinity at the University of Edinburgh and immediately afterwards joined George MacLeod as one of the founder members of the Iona Community, among whom he was the last to survive.

In December 1939 he was ordained for missionary service in the Punjab. In 1945 he returned to the UK and in 1947 became minister of the presbyterian congregation in Oxford, which was part of the Presbyterian Church of England.

By coincidence one of his predecessors was Rev David Lusk, whose daughter Mary was foremost among the group of women in the 1960s who believed they were called to the ministry. In Mr Bailey's day, the Oxford congregation included not only around 100 students but also significant figures in the academic community such as the Master of Balliol College Lord Lindsay and his successor Sir David Keir. Mr Bailey's Oxford ministry produced 18 ministers for various Presbyterian denominations, six for the Church of Scotland.

In 1957, Mr Bailey became minister of the newly established church extension congregation of St Martin's in Edinburgh, and he saw it grow sufficiently to be given full status 10 years later, when he went to work with the United Church of Pakistan for just over three years before returning to Scotland and becoming minister of the linked parishes of Ladykirk and Whitsome in the Borders.

The 1964 General Assembly discussed a report from its Panel on Doctrine on women in the ministry, and Mr Bailey had given notice that he wanted to have a proposal (formally called an overture) drawn up to be sent to all presbyteries giving effect to the view that there was no bar to women being admitted to the ministry.

But despite having been given an assurance that his proposal would be discussed, the fact that the Panel on Doctrine's report was presented on the last day of the General Assembly was used to argue that there was not time for Mr Bailey's motion to be discussed.

Three years later, another report brought the issue of women ministers on to the Assembly's agenda. Mr Bailey proposed the motion he would have proposed in 1964. "Take down the barriers," he said, "and the Church will be immeasurably enriched."

His motion was approved by 397 votes to 268 and over the next few months the overture was approved by 42 presbyteries with 17 disapproving. When a final decision to admit women to the ministry was taken by the General Assembly in 1968 the then Moderator, Dr James Longmuir, said: "We have certainly made history in the Church of Scotland today." That was due to Grahame Bailey.

Mr Bailey retired from Ladykirk and Whitsome in 1978 and took up an appointment as assistant at St Columba's Pont Street in London fore two years. He retired to live in Edinburgh.

His wife Mary and a son Alan predeceased him, and he is survived by his three daughters, Diana, Elizabeth and Rosalind, and his grandchildren and great grandchildren.