Farewell as pop­u­lar Fort Wil­liam min­is­ter re­tires

The Oban Times - - Birth, Marriages & Deaths -

FORT Wil­liam Free Church of Scot­land min­is­ter, the Rev­erend Gor­don Mair, has re­tired af­ter 40 years.

Mr Mair en­joyed a re­tire­ment party on Satur­day May 6 with friends and fam­ily to cel­e­brate the end of an era.

The 65-year- old spent 17 years in Lochgilp­head be­fore com­ing to Fort Wil­liam where he has been for the past 24 years.

Af­ter ‘ wrestling’ with the idea of re­tire­ment for some time, he said it was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion.

He said: ‘ The spir­i­tual well­be­ing of the peo­ple I have met was al­ways my con­cern when try­ing to make my de­ci­sion. I have built a bond with them which will al­ways re­main with me.

‘ It’s a de­ci­sion I have been wrestling with for a long time, and I fought it for a while.

‘ I have been with the min­istry for 40 years last Oc­to­ber, so I could have left then, but I kept on push­ing it and push­ing it.

‘ I asked the Lord for guid­ance and once I had made my de­ci­sion there was a sur­pris­ing de­gree of peace be­cause I had rec­on­ciled with it.’

Mr Mair is now pre­par­ing to move to his house in Tain, where he plans to spend his re­tire­ment.

He said: ‘ I may have re­tired but I will not stop preach­ing. There are quite a few churches in Tain who want preach­ers, so I think I will have plenty of in­vites com­ing my way.

‘Al­though the pas­tu­ral as­pect of my life has passed I cer­tainly won’t be idle.’

When asked about some of the high­lights of the past 24 years in Fort Wil­liam, Mr Mair said: ‘ In 1999 it was my wife and my sil­ver wed­ding an­niver­sary and the con­gre­ga­tion wanted to do some­thing for us, but they kept what they were plan­ning from us.

‘On the night in June, we went down to the house of some­one in the con­gre­ga­tion but we weren’t ex­pect­ing any­thing.

‘ It was also my birth­day, so when we walked through the first door there was a happy birth­day sign, and then when we walked through the sec­ond there was the whole con­gre­ga­tion in the house there to cel­e­brate our an­niver­sary.

‘ When the back door opened there was my mother, brother, sis­ter, and mother-in-law who had all trav­elled a long way to sur­prise us. That has stuck with me, be­cause peo­ple were al­ways so care­ful and kind to us. I am not often stuck for words, but on that oc­ca­sion I was.’

With a few things to tie up be­fore he leaves, Mr Mair plans to stay on in Fort Wil­liam un­til June.

‘ I am like a mag­pie – I hoard ev­ery­thing,’ he said. ‘ In 24 years of be­ing in Fort Wil­liam I have only parked my car in the garage once, be­cause it’s so full. So a lot of peo­ple have been go­ing on about clear­ing that out. We have asked if we can stay un­til mid- June to give us time to dis­pose of things and get packed up.

‘ It will be very sad and a wrench to go. I think when the van with our fur­ni­ture goes and when we have to leave our­selves it will be very hard be­cause that will be the fi­nal straw.’

But Mr Mair is leav­ing a legacy be­hind him. While the con­gre­ga­tion of the Fort Wil­liam Church is small, his ser­mons are heard all across the world.

He said: ‘ While we have al­ways been quite a small con­gre­ga­tion there is a tremen­dous amount of tourists here in the sum­mer who we al­ways wel­come.

‘ We have sent 2,500 CDs of ser­mons to peo­ple all over the world, in Canada, New Zealand, Aus­trala­sia and cen­tral Africa.

‘ We have a huge out­reach and send the CDs to peo­ple who lis­ten to them all over the world who can’t get out to church. They get a CD and the church comes to them. We have to keep preach­ing up to mod­ern ef­forts.

‘ We ac­com­mo­date the lonely, the old and the iso­lated which is why we do it this way.’

Pho­to­graph: Iain Fer­gu­son, The Write Im­age.

Gor­don Mair and his wife Nancy at the re­tire­ment party with parish­ioners of his church.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.