It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of our friend and colleague in Glasgow Churches Together (GCT), Dr. Laurence Whitley (see separate post). Laurence had been a wonderful, kind and generous collaborator in building up the ecumenical scene in Glasgow during his tenure as minister of Glasgow Cathedral. Members of GCT and the St.Mungo Singers joined Laurence’s family, friends, colleagues and representatives of other churches and of Glasgow City Council for his funeral on 12 November at Glasgow Cathedral. The packed Cathedral was testimony to the regard in which he was held.
The service was conducted by Rev. Ian Taylor of Springfield Cambridge Church of Scotland, the church in which Laurence had worshipped after his retirement. The scripture readings were read by Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti, Lord Provost Eva Bolander and Mary Sandman, yet another indication of the width of Laurence’s friendships and the esteem for him.
The eulogy was given by Rev.Johnston McKay who had known Laurence since he (Johnston) had been a very new assistant minister to Laurence’s father at St. Giles. He spoke about him with warmth and deep personal insight, describing what he described as his extraordinary diffidence about his own abilities, his graciousness in dealing with critics, and his pride in and loyalty to the City of Glasgow. His friendships in the ecumenical scene had been very precious to him.
Rev McKay also sounded lighter notes, bringing laughter as he reminded those present of Laurence’s gift of mimicry, his devotion to Hibernian FC (he was a season ticket holder) and telling stories from his childhood. Laurence’s father had told him that a minister needed three things: grace, Greek and gumption, and he had all these. He was a credit to the Church of Scotland ministry.
The service ended with a beautiful poem/prayer read by Rev Edmond Jones, Locum Minister at the Cathedral and a blessing by Rev Taylor. The music of the funeral had been beautifully supported and added to by the Choir of the Cathedral and they gave us a fitting finish with Hubert Parry’s I was Glad.