A healthy attendance, comprising young and old, recently gathered in The Old School Centre, Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, to mark Rev. Callum Macleod’s retirement from the pastoral ministry at Shawbost Free Church. The venue was beautifully arranged for the occasion and surpassed only by the food and refreshments prepared by a local team of ladies led by Anna Morrison, (North Shawbost).
The evening began with worship, led by Rev. Calum MacDonald (Callanish) who chaired the evening’s proceedings. Iain Henry Mackay led the singing of Psalm 122 verses 7-9. This was followed by a Scripture reading from Hebrews, Chapter 11.
Presentations to Callum and his wife Catherine were made by Murdo Macdonald, Elder, and Maletta MacPhail, respectively, presenting gifts and a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the congregation.
Murdo Macdonald, Elder, recalled in his speech how Callum’s induction in October 2000 was met with an air of expectancy and a feel-good factor in the congregation in the challenging times faced by the Church. Murdo told of how Callum, assisted and supported by a devoted Catherine, gave himself unreservedly to the duties which devolve on a pastoral minister. Both he and Catherine excelled in hospitality, ensuring the Manse was always open. Murdo spoke in appreciation of Callum’s ministry, and noted among his many qualities his particular aptitude to empathise with the bereaved as many in the community can testify.
Maletta recounted, ‘as the Metagama prepared to sail, and heartfelt farewell wishes were expressed, one plea was frequently repeated: “Sgrìobh dhachaigh!” (“Write home”) Maletta exhorted Callum and Catherine to take a regular cuairt back across the Barvas Moor ‘and feel, in some measure, that you are indeed coming back home.’ She quoted the following lines of verse, expressing warm wishes to Callum and Catherine on the congregation’s behalf.
May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your window pane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
Callum responded with thanks and went on to reflect on the parting of the Minister and the congregation – a relationship spanning 23 years, and how such a parting is both a solemn moment and, in many ways, painful moment. He reflected on different aspects of ministry over the years and spoke of the way which their lives were woven in the community in happy time and in sad times. In a final plea to those in attendance to secure their future by believing in Jesus, he closed with the words of Paul – “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2Corinthians 13:11).
There then followed speeches by men whose lives had become interwoven with Callum and Catherine in different ways over the years.
Major Iain Alasdair MacDonald, Callum’s brother-in-law, spoke of how the Scriptures remind us that Callum was Christ’s gift to us – given to equip us and build us up – and that he has done! He described Callum as someone who takes the bible seriously and who has never used the pulpit as a platform for expressing his own opinions; it was always, ‘Let’s hear what God has to say’.
Rev. Calum Murdo Smith (Assistant Minister, Kenneth Street, Stornoway) spoke of the impact of Callum’s ministry upon his own life, not least his conversion near the beginning of Callum’s ministry. This was the commencement of a close bond between them with Callum very much a mentor to Calum Murdo during his own journey to the ministry and all that has followed since. In short, Calum Murdo was thankful for Callum’s ministry, acknowledging his faithfulness to his calling and his prayer is that his ministry would continue to bear fruit.
A common theme among all who spoke was Callum’s meticulous nature, his attention to detail and organisational skills – all gifts from God which Callum has applied in various roles at congregational level, at Presbytery level, and General Assembly level. These gifts were highlighted by Rev. Colin Macleod (Back Free Church) who spoke affectionally – and with no small amount of humour – about his time with Callum at the then Free Church College. Colin reminded those present that it was only due to his mentoring and support that Callum attained such skills and got him through Free Church College!
The event was marked by a real sense of fellowship and friendship. The different speakers added their own perspective of the ministry that was now coming to an end. Rev. Calum Macdonald, with typical warmth and reliability, added his own unique blend of humour and storytelling throughout the evening.
The evening was brought to a close by singing Psalm 23, led by Ian M. Macleod (Elder, Kenneth Street, Stornoway), a friend of Callum and Catherine for many years.