Motherwell minister celebrated on the 70th anniversary of his ordination

Rev Dr James Martin with Rev. F. Derek Gunn, the Moderator of Hamilton Presbytery and minister of Clarkston Parish Church, and the certificate marking his 70th anniversary as a minister.

A group of ministers from Hamilton Presbytery made a surprise visit to Rev Dr James Martin to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his ordination.

Dr Martin, 96, was ordained as a minister on Monday 11 April 1946 by the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock. He served as minister at Newmilns West from 1946 until 1954, before moving to High Carntyne Church in Glasgow, where he stayed until his retirement.

A keen football fan, Dr Martin also served as chaplain toMotherwell Football Club for many years.

Rev. F. Derek Gunn, the Moderator of Hamilton Presbytery and minister of Clarkston Parish Church, visited Dr Martin with Rev. Dr. Gordon A McCracken, the Presbytery Clerk, and Rev. Alan Gibson, Minister of Motherwell South Parish Church. The group presented Dr Martin with a certificate to mark the occasion and a celebration cake, specially made by a member of the Clarkston congregation.

Dr Martin was also a prolific writer. During his career he wrote 30 books and numerous columns for Life and Work magazine. His services were regularly broadcast on BBC's Sunday Service Programme.

A man of the people

Dr McCracken said:

"Dr Martin is remarkable for a man of his age. He is keenly interested in everything that is going on and he was delighted that the Presbytery had recognised his achievement. I think he thought it might have slipped by unnoticed.

"Dr Martin is truly a man of the people. He is very well known and beloved in Motherwell which is where he grew up. He did not have a privileged upbringing and came from a family that included steel workers and he has never lost touch with ordinary people."

Ahead of his time

Dr McCracken added:

"I remember being in a junior section of the Boys Brigade when I was about 10 and Rev Martin was taking a service for broadcast on Songs of Praise. He had children running around playing follow my leader and created a very family friendly atmosphere in Church long before it was fashionable. So in that way he was definitely ahead of his time.

"For a long time Dr Martin was Chaplain to Motherwell football club, and he still loves the club although he can't get along to Fir Park nowadays. He told me that his connection with the club began when he played football himself and started training with the players at a time when Motherwell had only two professionals. As everyone at the club got to know him he was asked to take services –baptisms, funerals, marriages –and over the years he just grew into the role of club chaplain.

"We are very proud of him and it was a privilege to celebrate with him as he reached his 70thyear as a minister. It was typical of him that with his usual light touch he said achieving this milestone wassimply due to 'having the fortune to live so long'."Dr Martin has published 30 books during his career and wrote a regular column for the Church of Scotland's Life and Work magazine called, "Seen from My Manse Window."

Son of Motherwell

A true son of Motherwell, he grew up on Crosshill Street, was baptised in Manse Road Church, and attended Dalziel primary and high schools. He went on to study at Glasgow University, which awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 1983. When he retired at the end of 1997, he returned to Motherwell and for the next decade, he continuted to actively minister to several congregations.

Over Dr Martin's lifetime he has made many friends, including the renowned theologian and television presenter Dr William Barclay and the Motherwell and Airdrie football player and manager Bobby Watson, who last year was inducted into the Airdrieonians Hall Of Fame.

Here is one of the columns that Rev Dr Martin wrote for Life and Work magazine: The Very Special Christmas Child.