born September7th 1929

died January 22nd 2019

The Reverend David P Munro, who has died aged 89, was minister of the busy congregation of Bearsden North for nearly 30 years from 1967 until 1996.

It is one of the features of the Church of Scotland ministry that often those whose congregations and parishes are most demanding are those to whom the General Assembly turns for leadership. David Munro was heavily involved with a number of General Assembly committees and projects, in particular the Assembly Council which was set up in 1978, intended to have fairly strong executive powers over the administration of the Church. However so frightened were those involved in existing committees, they persuaded the General Assembly to increase the membership from 16 to include the conveners of all the boards within the Church.

The membership of 16 had been seen originally to have such power that its membership was to be elected not by the Nominations Committee by the whole General Assembly. However these arrangements were quickly dropped after the General Assembly was advised by Revd James Weatherhead that the Assembly Council “would be treated like every other committee”.

One of the issues which David Munro became involved in was the Assembly Council’s remit “to advise the General Assembly on the relative importance” of various activities. In one of its early reports the Council indicated that its view, which it maintained was shared by the majority of the Church that the priority was the maintenance and support of the ministry in Scotland. This inevitably led to opposition from the supporters of foreign missions, social work, education for the ministry and so on.

The Assembly Council’s report’s teeth were drawn, sadly, because without a clear decision on the Church’s priorities, the Church was left with no real way to judge on relative spending priorities. It was all too easy for those with an axe to grind regularly to claim that that without their particular favourite being well supported financially “the Church would cease to be the national Church of Scotland”.

At a very long evening session of General Assembly, David Munro tried persuasively but unsuccessfully to say to the Assembly that his Council, in identifying priorities was simply doing what it had been asked to do.

Mr Munro was also deeply interested in Christian education, and the Kirk’s Youth Committee published his studies, Preface to Teaching between 1969 and 1971.

David Munro was a Paisley “buddy”, born in the town and educated at its Grammar School. He then spent six years at Glasgow University, graduating with degrees in arts and divinity. During his divinity course he was student assistant at Lylesland Church in Paisley and this was followed by a further year’s study at Union Theological Seminary in New York, leaving there with a Master’ degree in theology. He also served as assistant minister at Olmstead Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York.

In September 1953, Mr Munro was ordained and inducted to the parish of Arbuthnott, two weeks after he had married Jessie Scott. They had three daughters, Joan, Morag and Catriona.

In 1956 David Munro moved to be the first minister of the Church Extension charge of Castlehill on the south side of Ayr, with a projected parish of 10,000 people. Shortly after he was inducted, work began on the building of a hall-church which was completed in 1958. Two years later the congregation was granted full status. The ministry in Castlehill continued to be a demanding one, but it was able to be continued in a settled building.

In 1967, Mr Munro moved to Bearsden North where he was to stay until he retired in 1996. During his ministry the population in the north of Bearsden grew extensively and Mr Munro’s congregation built a Church Hall in Baljaffray. In 1993 a much more ambitious Church Centre was built and worship was held at the North Church and at Baljaffray for 13 years. Mr Munro retired in 1996 but undertook locum work from time to time, the latest occasion recently in Killearn, where he was described as “a wonderfully supportive and very hard working locum for fifteen months”.

He represented the best of the Church of Scotland minister: a fine preacher, pastorally attentive, willingly undertaking what was asked of him by the wider Church, and taking his full part in the courts of the Church.

His wife Jessie predeceased him, and he is survived by his three daughters.

Johnston McKay