Rev. W. Douglas Hamilton
Rev. W. Douglas Hamilton B. D. retired from his position as minister of Westburn Church on 6th July 2009. However, his last Service and practical retirement was on Sunday 14th June when Holy Communion was celebrated.
At the conclusion of the Communion Service, a buffet lunch provided by the Social Committee, was served in the church hall. Following the lunch, the congregation returned to the Church for a presentation to Douglas when the main speaker was the The Right Rev. William C. Hewitt, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Bill. praised Douglas for faithfully carrying out the duties of the ministry and that that Douglas had shared in the vision of change happening amongst the churches in Greenock. The union between St Georges North and St Lukes to form Westburn had been a successful union. Bill would miss Douglas’s wisdom and friendship.
In reply Douglas stated that it would be a tremendous wrench to leave as so many people had become friends. He had many memories that he would treasure throughout the years to come.
At both the Service and the Presentation, the congregation stood and clapped as Douglas Hamilton left the church
Please note that the photographs shown can be enlarges by clicking on to them.
Previously, on the evening of Friday 12 June, a ‘Farewell Ceilidh’ for Douglas and Nancy was held. This gave members of the congregation an opportunity to meet with them socially and send them off in style.
Douglas began his theological Training in 1969 at Trinity College, Glasgow University before being a Probationer Assistant at Cathcart Old Parish Church and continued there for a further year as an Ordained Assistant.
In 1975, he took his first charge of Newtongrange Parish Church which five years later became linked to Borthwick Church.
In December 1986, he came to Greenock when he was inducted as minister of Greenock St. Georges North. In November 2006, the congregation of St. George’s North and St. Luke’s united to form Greenock Westburn Church of Scotland with both ministers continuing in place and sharing a joint ministry.
At the meeting of Greenock and Paisley Presbytery on Tuesday 14th May, the Rev Douglas Hamilton took his leave of Presbytery. Mr Alan Gallacher, Assistant Session Clerk of Westburn Church and former Session Clerk of St George’s North gave the following appreciation:-
Rev William Douglas Hamilton was inducted as minister of Greenock:St George’s North on Thursday 4th December 1986 by the Presbytery of Greenock. The following Tuesday the Presbytery decided that St George’s North should be involved in a union. I think that Presbytery was saying Welcome to Greenock.
Douglas Hamilton was preached into St George’s North by his father Rev William Hamilton. Douglas was a son of the manse and was educated in Stranraer. He initially worked in the hospital labs in Glasgow before deciding to enter the ministry. A graduate of Glasgow University he was ordained by the Presbytery of Glasgow in 1975 and served as assistant minister at Glasgow:Cathcart Old for one year. In 1976 he was inducted to Newtongrange which was later linked with Borthwick in 1981. He still retains great affection for the mining village and rural charge which shaped his early years in the ministry.
In Greenock he threw himself into the life of the Church. At his induction an elder from his previous charge said that Douglas believed in making his elders work. Well the elders in St George’s North found that out. He wanted to see change so he asked the Kirk Session to enter into a contract with St Ninian’s Crieff. From this contract came the ventures and activities that helped to make St George’s North a busy church and which led to a greater involvement by office bearers and members in the life of the church.
A very important aspect of Douglas’s ministry was his conduct of funeral services. His eulogies summed up so well facets of a persons character that he was praised both from within and outside St George’s North. I personally have heard people who had little contact with the church say that minister really does his homework that was great.
At home Douglas was ably supported by his wife Nancy. Both Nancy and his two sons had either a background or were employed in the nursing profession. This medical background helped to inform his pastoral visits when he would talk to people about their conditions and treatment. He served on the education committee of Inverclyde Council. He is a past president of Greenock Burns Club the Mother Club. This was a role which he enjoyed as he travelled to different functions often wearing the Hamilton tartan. I don’t know if he enjoyed as much his other leisure activity as a season ticket holder of Greenock Morton. Perhaps it takes a man of faith to follow Morton. As his retirement home is in Penilee then maybe next years season ticket will be for Saint Mirren.
There is a saying that you know that you are getting older when the police start to look younger. Perhaps another saying is that you know you are getting older as a minister when your Session Clerks get younger. Douglas had me. I valued his guidance and the many conversations that we had as we helped to plan projects for St George’s North. I never once regretted taking a telephone call from the manse.
I mentioned at the beginning the plan for St George’s North to be involved in a union. This was one of many ideas to try and solve the issue of the number of churches in the central area and West End of Greenock. Members of this Presbytery are still involved in this. One idea which seemed to take off was the covenant in 2002 between Ardgowan, Old West Kirk, Finnart St Paul’s, St Luke’s and St George’s North. These five congregations would work together with the eventual aim of becoming one congregation. Douglas chaired this in the first year which was a tribute to his seniority and experience. He was a fair and even handed chairman. Eventually from this came the proposal that in 2005 there would be a union of all five churches and that St George’s North would close as a result of this. Douglas backed this proposal fully and was always ready to defend himself with reasoned argument and a belief in the vision of what a united church could achieve.
As members of Presbytery will know the proposals came to naught yet out of the fallout came union with St Luke’s in 2006 to form Westburn. Prior to union the Kirk Session met with members of the then Presbytery Plan Committee to discuss options for the future. These options did not include St George’s North continuing.as the cost of building repairs and an ageing congregation made the kirk session make the hard decision to unite with the sacrificial loss of the church building. Douglas argued for this while acknowledging the sense of loss. The closure of a church building is always sad and can be very emotional. In the final week of St George’s North the church was open for people to take photographs and to say farewell. I heard Douglas say as he looked around the sanctuary I am going to miss this place.
Westburn was Douglas’s fourth and last charge. Again he threw himself into the union working closely with Rev Bill Hewitt to establish and form Westburn. My predecessor as Session Clerk in 1986 informed Presbytery that the induction of Douglas Hamilton was the final stage in a union between St George’s and Martyrs’ and North. Douglas would end his ministry in Greenock as he began by forming a union .The fact that in a background article on the Moderator Designate in Life and Work Westburn could be described as a harmonious union is due in no small part to Rev William Douglas Hamilton.
I close by addressing to Douglas the final words that he used at the last service in St George’s North
Wherever you choose to worship God may the peace of the Lord be with you always.