The Rev James Stirling (1935-2003)
by The Rev Gary J. McIntyre.
JAMES Stirling died on the morning of Sunday, February 2, 2003. His passing, after a period of illness, brought to a close the life of a man who was dedicated to the service of Jesus Christ and His Church.
Jim was born at Kirkintilloch on January 6 in 1935. He was educated at Lenzie Academy and at the University of Glasgow, from which he graduated in 1958 with an Honours degree in pure science.
Called to the ministry, Jim then studied divinity at Trinity College, graduating as a Bachelor of divinity in 1961, the year in which he was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow. It was on October 23, 1962, that Jim was ordained by the Presbytery of Stirling and Dunblane and inducted to the then pastoral charge of Alloa St. Andrews. There he made his mark as a gifted and conscientious young minister.
On June 4, 1969, Jim was translated to the large pastoral charge of St Ninians Old in Stirling. He worked tirelessly for the cause and from there he retired on February 28, 1998, his early retirement being brought about by the onset of Alzheimer’s.
To this day, Jim is remembered by his former congregations with love and affection. He had a deep and enduring faith which he made it his life’s work to share.
Jim was an able preacher who approached the worship of God with great dignity and solemnity. He also had a deep and genuine pastoral concern that often went beyond the rigorous demands for his vocation. Indeed, numerous people will testify to the outstanding support they received from Jim, not least in times of sickness or sorrow.
Truly, he was one who shared in both the highs and lows of this earthly life and in Jim, his people knew they had a true friend and support, his wise council always being listened to and valued.
A familiar figure in the parish and unlike a number of ministers today always smartly turned out in his clerical collar, Jim was also unstinting in his service in the courts of the church. He was active on various Assembly Committees and in the Presbytery of Stirling where he served for a time as Assistant Presbytery Clerk and as Convener of the Maintenance of the Ministry Committee and of the Business Committee.
He also served as Moderator of the Presbytery from 1975-1976.
One of Jim Stirling’s great gifts was his sharp and incisive mind. He had an amazing ability to think on his feet and I am told that often he helped the presbytery to clarify its position on a number of difficult issues. His voice was indeed a welcome voice, for those who heard Jim speak realised that he did not do so in order to attract attention to himself, but always because he was concerned for the good name of the church and the spiritual well-being of its members.
In his life, Jim touched the lives of a great many people. He had a delightful pawky sense of humour; he had a real concern for people and an abiding interest in the church and its history.
He was a man who said what he believed and believed what he said. People would not always agree with him, but I believe they respected him as an individual of unquestionable integrity and one who brought to bear on all his work, a deep sense of dedication and devotion; truly the hallmarks of a good and gracious man of God.
As well as being well known in church and community, Jim being a member and past chairman of the Board of Trustees of William Simpson Home in Plean was truly a family man.
He was a devoted husband to Jessie whom he married in 1961. He was a loving father to Gregor, Rhona and Fraser. He was also a loving grandfather and a dear brother to Jane. In them Jim experienced real happiness and from them he derived the strength that he needed in order to give so freely of his time to others.
Members of Jim’s former congregations in Alloa and St Ninians and his many friends, join with the family in gratitude for the life of a good and upright man, a man with a strong living faith that has surely won him the well-merited approbation: Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.