Influential Glasgow minister

Born: April 30, 1921

Died: January 11, 2019

REV John MacNaughton, who has died aged 97, was one of the most highly respected ministers in Glasgow in the second half of the 20th century.

He was elected moderator of the presbytery in 1981, having previously been vice convener of the presbytery’s superintendence committee, and for several years he chaired the education for the ministry committee. He was also invited to be a member of the selective but unofficial Presbytery Club, which met the evening before presbytery for a meal, followed by discussion about the agenda for the next night: a sure sign that he was a trusted, safe pair of hands in the view of the presbytery’s establishment.

Mr MacNaughton was educated at the High School of Glasgow and then for three years at Glasgow University, graduating with a degree in arts in 1942. He then joined the RAF and served in Burma, where he intercepted and translated Japanese signals.

On demobilisation he returned to Glasgow University graduating in divinity in 1948. That year he was licensed as a minister by the presbytery of Glasgow, and became assistant at St Francis in the East to Rev Arthur Gray who was a pioneer in the field of new ways of being a parish minister. The two formed a lifelong friendship. It was there that he met his wife Betty. They were married in 1950, by which time John MacNaughton had been inducted to his first charge, St Bride’s in Partick.

In 1958 he moved to Park Church, Uddingston. There he was to stay for over 20 years, and to form another lifelong friendship, with a member of the Kirk Session there, David Lees, who was rector of the High School of Glasgow.

Ten years later Mr MacNaughton was called to Hyndland where he is remembered with considerable affection and respect. When he went there he gave a guarantee that within 15 months he would have visited every household in the congregation, then with over 1,000 members. However the target was met, impressive in itself but equally so at a time when the importance of regular pastoral visiting of a whole congregation was becoming regarded as somewhat antediluvian.

There a member of the congregation during his ministry remembers that “his ministry in Hyndland is remembered with great affection, his pastoral care exemplary, coupled with his assiduous visiting”.

Not content with this, however, he and Betty held regular Friday evenings in their manse for members of the congregation where one former remember remembers the minister dispensing sherry with abandon.

As both a member of the presbytery’s education for the ministry committee and later its convener, he was regularly allocated ministry students in training for practical experience. In addition to duties such as these, and his parish responsibilities, he served as president of Partick Burns Club from 1985-87, and, after he retired, in the local Probus Club.

This writer had in common with John MacNaughton that they both spent holiday months in the village of Tongue in the north of Scotland, and enjoyed evenings in the local hotel over a glass or two.

His remarks during conversations about the Church of Scotland were always well informed, perceptive and much more sympathetic than a brash younger minister was likely to make. But they always proved to be wise and well judged.

A person who knew him well recalled that he used to say of some people that “they had a great warmth of friendliness” – a description he added “which most assuredly applied to John himself, though he added “though he would never have said so”.

John Macnaughton was a proud father, grandfather and great grandfather, and is survived by his daughter Margaret, son Duncan and their families.