Rev Dr Iain D Campbell - an Obituary by Rev James Maciver

February 1, 2017

The entire Free Church and many others worldwide are still trying to come to terms with the loss of one of our best-loved ministers, Rev Dr Iain D Campbell. We continue to pray for his family in their indescribable pain, as well as his congregation, friends and colleagues.

At a time like this, there is only one source of strength and refuge, who we believe is ruling in unchangeable love over his people.

Rev James Maciver, the minister of Stornoway Free Church, has also penned a short obituary to Dr Campbell, as follows.

The news of Rev. Dr Iain D. Campbell’s sudden death numbed the Western Isles Free Presbytery, and the tremors from the shock extended through the Free Church and well beyond. Such was his fitness, vigour and drive that none could have expected his demise at 53 years of age.

Iain grew up in Stornoway. Along with his parents and two sisters he attended the Free Church congregation there, becoming a communicant in 1977, aged 14. At an early age he showed an outstanding intellectual ability and spiritual insight, together with a remarkable eloquence, which led many to believe, rightly, that he was being prepared for a pulpit ministry.

As early as in his mid-teens he could deliver a lecture or address with competent ease, as was evident in youth meetings in church or inter-school debates. He was Joint-Dux of the Nicolson Institute in 1980, proceeding from there to Glasgow University, graduating M.A. with First Class Honours in 1985.  He then undertook theological studies at the Free Church College (now Edinburgh Theological Seminary), during which time he also took external exams at the University of London, graduating B.D. with First Class Honours.

It was a privilege to share in these times as a student with him, his high academic attainments always providing less gifted mortals with a standard to aim at, even if we consistently failed to match it.

He was ordained and inducted to Snizort Free Church, Skye, in 1988, from which he was called to Back Free Church in 1995, then to Point Free Church in 2009, serving there till the time of his death. A few years after entering congregational ministry Dr Campbell achieved his Master of Theology degree, followed in 2001 by the University of Edinburgh awarding him his PhD.
Dr Campbell was understandably in demand as a conference speaker throughout the country and overseas. He was due to go to Korea later this month to deliver lectures at a Theological Seminary in Seoul. In addition to his powers of speech he also possessed admirable writing skills, as is evident in his many publications, a fact that was not lost on the Church which twice appointed him as Editor of the Record, the Church’s magazine.

His editorials frequently showed his qualities of leadership providing vision and direction to the Church’s development, particularly during difficult and challenging times. He had in earlier years edited the Instructor, the children’s magazine of the Church. For many years he contributed an eagerly sought-out weekly column to the Stornoway Gazette, providing stimulating comment on local and national issues, but always within a biblical framework, in addition to articles for Reformation 21, and Tabletalk Magazine.

His writings are marked by rigorous research, clarity, faithfulness to Scripture, humility, purpose and an obvious concern to honour and exalt the God who had so wonderfully gifted him as a communicator of the gospel. Throughout his ministry Dr Campbell served the Church at various times as a member of Committees and Boards, the most recent of which was as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Edinburgh Theological Seminary. He was appointed Moderator of the Free Church General Assembly in 2012.

Although gifted in so many fields Iain’s great love was preaching the gospel. It was a preaching of the highest calibre. His exposition of Scripture was educative, stimulating, thought-provoking, evangelistic and edifying, even for those most advanced in the Christian faith. Dr Campbell was a consummate Reformed, covenantal theologian who would have enhanced any theological institution in the world. While we lament his passing and mourn the fact that we will never hear his voice in a pulpit again, we are thankful to have a large resource of his recorded sermons and lectures, through which we trust that his preaching will continue to convey rich blessing to many throughout the world.

We extend our sincere condolences to his widow Anne; to their sons Iain and Stephen, and daughter Emily; to his mother Lily and his sisters, Margaret and Alma. We also remember the congregation of Point Free Church who lament the death of their beloved minister.

“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love” - Lamentations 3 v 31-32.

James Maciver
Stornoway Free Church