Western Isles

Tribute to Rev Alasdair Smith

February 23, 2017

Rev Callum Macleod, minister of Shawbost Free Church, has penned a short tribute to the Rev Alasdair Smith, who passed away last week at the age of 91.

Alasdair Smith was born in Ness in 1925.  He was the son of John and Margaret, and was the eldest of seven of a family.

Alasdair attended school in Ness before entering his working life at the aerodrome and as a weaver and upholsterer.

Alasdair was called up to serve during the second world war, and was part of the Royal Navy.  However, ill health cut his wartime service short as he was forced to return home to recover from pneumonia and pleurisy.

Alasdair came to faith in 1954 and, despite his quiet demeanor, Alasdair sensed a call to ministry in his 30s.  In obedience, he answered this call he went to Aberdeen University in 1960 and entered the Free Church College in Edinburgh in 1961 at the age of 36.

Upon completing his training, Alasdair was licensed to preach the gospel and was ordained and supplied Fort William Ontario for 6 months and then inducted to the charge of Strontian and Acharacle on Thursday 11th March 1965.

The following year, Alasdair married Chrissie Stewart, a primary school teacher from Back.  A further 5 years in Strontian followed before, in 1971, Alasdair accepted a call to Kilmuir, Staffin and Stencholl Free Church on the Isle of Skye.

As in Strontian, Alasdair’s ministry in Skye was blessed, and the congregation deeply appreciated both Alasdair’s biblical preaching and faithful pastoral care.

In 1977, Alasdair accepted a call to Scalpay Free Church.  By this time, he and Chrissie had been blessed with 3 children, Margaret, Donald and Alasdair.  Alasdair ministered in Scalpay for 13 years until his retirement in 1991.  His ministry in Scalpay was a time of particular blessing, where the Lord brought many people to faith.  Today, there are many converts from this period who can bear testimony to their appreciation of Alasdair’s preaching ministry and pastoral care.

Alongside these 3 charges, Alasdair also served the congregation of Livonia in Detroit on two occasions; for 6 months in 1980, and then for a further 10 months in 1991.

Despite retiring in 1991, Alasdair continued to serve the church through widespread lay preaching and helping as an interim Moderator. He also served as hospital chaplain for 2 terms. Indeed, in retirement, the Lord continued to bear fruit through Alasdair’s preaching as he called sinners to repentance and encouraged seekers with the message, ‘yet there is room’.

Alasdair’s preaching was clear, sincere and saturated with biblical teaching.  This was coupled with a gentle voice and kindly manner that endeared him to all.  The Lord also gifted Alasdair with the ability to encourage, and even in his later years he provided support and wisdom for his younger colleagues in the ministry.

The Smith household was always a warm and welcoming home, and many people will remember with fondness their time spent visiting Alasdair and Chrissie.

In his final years, Alasdair bore the burden of failing health with patience and dignity, and on many occasions demonstrated his resilience as he overcame numerous health problems.  However, his pilgrimage was to come to an end, and he peacefully passed away in the early hours of Tuesday 14th February 2017.

Alasdair was characterized by a godly wisdom that shunned vain glory and sought to maintain a clear focus on the true priorities of the Christian life.  He was a man whose preaching and teaching was powerfully backed up by his character.  And above all, he was a man who was wholeheartedly committed to serving his Saviour.  God has taken home a good and faithful servant, and we thank the Lord for raising up Alasdair, and for using him for over 50 years to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ and the immeasurable riches of his grace.

We extend our sincere sympathy to Alasdair’s wife Chrissie, to his sister Jessie, and to his children, Margaret, Donnie and Alasdair, and to their respective families.  May the God, who Alasdair faithfully served, provide you with strength, comfort and peace at this time and in the days ahead.

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1Thess 4:13-14)