Tribute to the Rev Donald Macaulay

I was asked by the Presbytery of Lewis to write a tribute to  the Rev Donald Macaulay  for the February meeting of 2006 and for onward circulation to Life & Work Magazine. For reasons unknown to me, the tribute never appeared in Life & Work, perhaps it was not of sufficient intellectual and literary quality, or perhaps the source was lacking in sufficient gravitas to merit inclusion! Other tributes have sometimes been included in this publication to individuals far less worthy of recognition and honour than Donald and frankly sometimes  I am afraid to say  who did actual dis-service to Christ and His cause. I include this tribute now in memory  of Donald , and in support of Donald’s widow Catherine and  all the family.

Tribute by the Presbytery of Lewis

The Rev Donald Macaulay OBE Freeman of the Western Isles .

The Rev Donald Macaulay, a beloved pastor and local government politician died on Monday 30th January 2006 at the age of 79. Mr Macaulay was widely known and respected throughout the Western Isles and many parts of Scotland , and was a gracious and genial ambassador for the church and the community of the Western Isles. Donald Macaulay was born in the village of Kirkibost in Great Bernera in 1926. His occupation like so many others from his native island was originally as a fisherman. Donald spent several years in this profession as skipper of his lobster boat the Mairi Dhonn, and retained a lifelong love of fishing as well as a deep understanding of those who make their living in this dangerous and demanding profession. Donald, like many others in the islands, came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ in a gracious move of God’s Spirit in 1953 under the ministry of the visiting evangelist the Rev Duncan Campbell. In May 1958 he married Catherine Macleod from Port of Ness. For nearly fifty years they forged a strong Christian marriage, built on love and a common faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. In all their civic duties together as well as in their manse in Lemreway and latterly in their home in Kirkibost, Donald and Catherine exemplified Christian hospitality, and simply knew how to make anyone feel at ease and welcome. Donald and Catherine had a family of six, three sons and three daughters, and several grandchildren, in whom Donald delighted.

Donald felt a call to the ministry of word and sacrament and as was said in another tribute, ‘left of being a fisherman to become a fisher of men’. After studies at the University of Aberdeen, he was ordained and inducted to the charge of Pairc in 1968, as only the second minister of that congregation. Mr Macaulay’s interpersonal gifts and warm personality were used to the full in the offices he held as a preacher and pastor, and as a prominent local government politician. He first entered local government in 1969 on the former Ross and Cromarty County Council, and the Lewis district council. Following the formation of the Western Isles Islands Council in 1974, Mr Macaulay represented the Uig ward for several years, and became the first ever convener of the local Council. He served two terms as convener of Comhairle nan Eilean, and one term as Vice Convener. He was awarded the OBE in 1981 for services to Local Government, and was made an honorary Freeman of the Western Isles in 2004 by Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar.

As well as his pastoral duties in Pairc, Mr Macaulay played a full and active part in the work of the Presbytery of Lewis and its committees. He served as moderator of Presbytery, and as interim moderator in vacant congregations. Most recently Mr Macaulay served as Locum of the congregation of Lochs in Bernera for five years, where he was extremely popular among his own folk. He was a most acceptable preacher, and popular as a visiting preacher in many island charges during communion seasons. Mr Macaulay was particularly fond of preaching in his native Gaelic language, and possessed a truly impressive grasp of the language and its vocabulary. He was proud of his island heritage and culture and was a fount of knowledge of local history and genealogy. The Church of Christ will miss his incisive wit and Spirit formed wisdom, and can only pray that the Lord in His mercy would raise up others to take his place. To Catherine and her family we extend our heartfelt condolences, and commend them all to the prayers of the Lord’s people. We truly believe that our brother is now in the nearer presence of the Lord he sought to serve for so many years, and has been ushered into His master’s presence with the words ‘ Well done good and faithful servant…come and share in your master’s happiness’.

Rev Ian Murdo Macdonald