Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Stirling

Rev. James Whitelaw McIntyre, B.D. (1974-93)

Rev. J. W. McIntyreAfter an 'interregnum', during which Holy Trinity was served by visiting priests, Rev. James Whitelaw McIntyre or ‘Father Jim' as he was affectionately known, became Rector. His previous charge was the Church of the Holy Name, Cumbernauld, to which Holy Trinity's congregation had been asked to subscribe.

Rev. McIntyre always preferred to be addressed as 'Father', for reasons which he expressed as follows: "For me, however, I had a larger family than the one at home. I saw the whole congregation as my family. I stressed this point [in 1974] when, for the first time, I addressed my Christmas letter to the members as "my dear family". It was this concept of my relationships with church members which partly explains why, since my priesting, I had adopted the custom of using 'Father' as the way in which to address a priest. It may seem strange to admit now [in 1993] that I wasn't always comfortable with this custom, since I actively encouraged it. But it was a custom I had met with from the time I had joined the Episcopal Church (having left Presbyterianism) thinking, then, that this was the normal usage of Episcopalians (which it isn't). But I recognise that there were various factors which may explain why I adopted and used this custom. I had been brought up as a child NOT to address adults by their first names. In my days of Scouting, our leader was NEVER addressed as 'George' but as 'Skipper' (I once got a terrible row at a Scout Camp for addressing a visiting Scouter by his first name). At the Theological College I attended, the clergy were all termed as 'Father'. To have gone through my ministry as 'Mr' would have seemed, to me, formal and unfriendly, and my Scottish upbringing still makes it difficult for me to accept the modern tendency to be on first name terms at first introduction. Hence, 'Father' was, for me, the simplest and most courteous solution."  

Fr McIntyre came from a Presbyterian background and practised as a quantity surveyor before entering the ministry. With his wife, Rachael, and young family, all devoted to the service of the church, he soon made an impact in his new charge, improving the finances, gaining new members and, above all, encouraging a feeling of fellowship among long-term members and newcomers alike.

Fr McIntyre preached his first sermon at Holy Trinity on Sunday 28 April 1974, taking as his subject 'congregational participation'. He was eager to establish from his earliest days a ministry that was not a 'one man band', but a whole ministry of all the members of the congregation. He saw his part as that of an 'enabler', encouraging members to use their gifts and to minister in partnership with him.

Matins had been the main diet of worship at Holy Trinity, sometimes followed by a service of Holy Communion and sometimes replaced by a 'Family Service', with a Sung Eucharist once a month. Fr McIntyre had a strong preference for a Sung Eucharist as the main act of worship and, at his interview with the Vestry, he established that this is what he would bring to Holy Trinity. At first, the change was resisted by some members of the congregation who were accustomed to the established pattern, but it was eventually accepted. Matins continued to be offered  at 8.30 a.m. on Sundays, followed by Holy Communion at 9.00 a.m. and the Sung Eucharist at 11.00 a.m., with Evensong at 6.30 p.m. During the week, Holy Communion was offered at 7.30 a.m. on Wednesdays and 11.00 a.m. on Fridays, with Evening Prayer daily at 6.30 p.m.

At this time, a 'communicant' member of the Scottish Episcopal Church was a baptised member who had been 'confirmed' in the laying on of hands by a Bishop and who would come to receive Holy Communion at regular intervals. Ideally, each confirmation would be preceded by a period of instruction at a Confirmation Class. Fr McIntyre's course lasted eighteen weeks, with a break after the first nine weeks. The first nine week period was concerned with 'What we believe as Christians' and the second with 'How we behave as Christians'. Over time, the classes became less formal. The role of confirmation has changed in recent years and it is no longer regarded as essential to church membership.

Early in his ministry, Fr McIntyre took a keen interest in the charismatic Scottish Churches Renewal movement, whose aims were to pray and prepare for spiritual renewal and revival. Several renewal rallies were held in Holy Trinity and the themes of 'renewal and revival' were to permeate the rest of Fr McIntyre's ministry.

Inspired by the renewal movement, Holy Trinity's first public healing ministry was held on Sunday 2 November 1975. A similar evening service of healing was initially on the second Sunday of each month. It then came to be offered each month at both a Sunday morning Eucharist and at a weekday Communion Service. This pattern has continued: healing services are now held during the morning Eucharist on the first Sunday of each month and during Holy Communion on the third Friday.

For several years, Fr McIntyre had been in touch with the Society of St Francis, a religious community within the Anglican Communion, whose members seek to follow Christ in the way of St Francis, that is, in the spirit of humility, love and joy. The order is open to men and women, ordained and lay, married or single, who feel called to live out a Franciscan vocation in the world. Though mainly from within the Anglican Communion, members are also drawn from other Christian traditions. As a result, Brothers Damien and Malcolm came to preach at Holy Trinity on Sunday 28 September 1975. This was so well received by the congregation that it was followed up by a 'Franciscan Week', held over the period 6-15 March 1976.

The week's activities included home group meetings for prayer, Bible study and discussion; a film portraying the life of the Church of the Redeemer, Houston, Texas; a congregational conference and a musical evening featuring The Fisherfolk, a music group from Houston, who were based for a time at the Cathedral of the Isles, Millport. Fr McIntyre wrote of the week: "Although the programme was drawn up by Br Damien I had a large say in arranging it and in making sure that the right kind of emphasis was stressed. Hence, many of the items stemmed from my interest in the Renewal Movement. This brought about some consequences that had not been originally anticipated. The whole idea was that the congregation would benefit spiritually and practically by this Visit. And we did. But the Team also benefited - greatly. The introduction of the principles of the Renewal movement to St Margaret's Convent, Aberdeen, came about because the Sister who was part of the Team experienced a renewal, herself, in Stirling, and this had a lasting effect."

On Sunday 30 May 1976, Fr McIntyre initiated a series of 'parish days', day conferences that were to be held periodically throughout his ministry. These were held at Scottish Churches House, Dunblane, Stirling University Chaplaincy Centre and other locations. Among the themes were church growth, young people and 'sharing our life together'.

In the summer of 1976, Rev. Duncan Sladden, lately Rector of St John's, Johnstone, came to stay in Stirling. He had become heavily involved in the Renewal Movement and, like Fr McIntyre, was actively committed to the work of Scottish Churches Renewal. Having felt that God was calling him to encourage renewal prayer groups throughout Scotland, and knowing that no such opportunities were provided in the Scottish Episcopal Church, he had decided to go, as Fr McIntyre described it, 'freelance'. Rev. Sladden knew of Fr McIntyre's interest in renewal. Therefore, Stirling was not only a very centrally situated town from which to work - it also had an Episcopal Church and Rector that he could count upon for support. Following discussions with Fr McIntyre, who took the matter to the Prayer Group and Vestry as well as to the Bishop, Rev. Sladden, his wife Margaret and their three children moved into a house in the Torbrex area of Stirling. Fr McIntyre wrote of him: "From the very outset I appreciated and valued his assistance, and we quickly found that, despite some differences, naturally, in emphasis and churchmanship, we were both very much on similar wavelengths. What he taught, both by sermon and example, was in keeping with my own teaching - Bible based, emphasising the role of prayer, and encouraging membership participation."

By 1977, the numbers attending services at Throsk had dwindled to the extent that it was no longer thought practical to offer regular formal worship there. Jonathon Lord recalls: "The services at Throsk came to an end shortly before the closure of Royal Navy Armament Depot at Bandeath in 1978. My father was the last Officer in Charge and ensured that the Church fittings and plate were transferred to Holy Trinity for safe keeping."

From 1977 until 1980, Fr McIntyre was supported by Rev. C. Martin Reith as honorary assistant priest. Rev. Reith had a distinguished career in the Scottish Episcopal Church. In 1964, he had been a founder member of the Company of the Servants of God, an order dedicated to a disciplined prayer-life within a parish ministry. While he was serving at Holy Trinity, his book Beyond the Mountains was published by the SPCK.

By 1977, the congregation had become aware of the work of The Leprosy Mission and, year by year thereafter, gave both its prayer and financial support. A member of the congregation was given charge of a regular collection and special plastic phials and 'L' boxes were issued for people to take home and fill with coins. The Leprosy Mission's intercessions booklet was made available in church along with the Mission's magazine. Reading and praying about this work helped to maintain the congregation's interest and support and, on a certain Sunday in most years, a speaker would be invited to explain the Mission's work. All these activities helped to ensure that The Leprosy Mission would remain an important expression of the congregation's ongoing concern for others.

The Harvest Service of September 1977 introduced a musical innovation - the 'Trinity Singers'. This was a group of people from within the congregation who could provide folk-style music by guitar, cello, flute and piano. The group produced an audio tape of their music as part of the centenary activities in 1978 and they were invited to perform in other churches and at a Diocesan Festival. Another innovation in this period was an exhibition display by the Colorado Sacred Dancers. In later years, there would be musical evenings featuring performers such as Alva Brass Band.

Not all members of the congregation, however, favoured the use of folk-type music in worship and, when some key participants moved away from Stirling, the 'Trinity Singers' fell silent. This, in fact, beset several initiatives at Holy Trinity. The church tended to attract people who had moved into Stirling for career or other purposes, often because they had an existing Anglican-Episcopal connection. These people brought fresh talents and ideas but, unfortunately, they were prone to moving on again. Several initiatives in this period faltered as key individuals left the area.

The year 1978 marked the centenary of the church building and a series of activities took place during that year. New cassocks were bought from congregational donations and a production of Murder in the Cathedral was staged. A specially-printed centenary booklet was compiled by Miss C. E. Saunders was produced, upon which much of the historical text in this website is based. Before coming to Stirling in 1969, Miss Saunders was on the staff of Bishop Lonsdale College of Education, Derby. By a remarkable coincidence, it was Bishop Lonsdale who had ordained Rev. Clement Coldwell, Holy Trinity's first Rector, into the priesthood. Photographs for the brochure were take by John Ewart of Falkirk College of Technology. A Centenary Celebration Week was held from 9-16 September. From Saturday 9 - Monday 11 September, a magnificent flower festival was mounted involving members of the Stirling Floral Art Club. On 10 September, Rev. David Redwood, a former curate, preached. On Tuesday 12 September, the date of the building's original dedication, a Thanksgiving Service was held with the Primus, the Most Rev. Alastair I. M. Haggart, as preacher. The week concluded with a Centenary Gift Day on Saturday 16 September.

While these events were all highly successful, Fr McIntyre was sometimes frustrated by the time and effort that he had to put into the care and maintenance of the large 100-year old building. He expressed it thus: "Although it is necessary to have a building for worship and to maintain that building, it nevertheless seems a misuse of a priest's time, efforts and abilities to be forever concerned about dry rot, slating, heating systems and organ repairs." Nevertheless, his care for the fabric of the buildings led to much excellent voluntary work being done, in an attempt to make up for the restoration and cleaning schemes to which the congregation aspired, but which it could not afford. Similarly, the Church Hall was refurbished and became a place of many friendly gatherings.

Barbeque lunch at King's Knot







Barbeque lunch at King's Knot, Stirling.
If you know what year this took place, please get in touch!





Late in 1978, a Stirling Council of Churches was formed, in which Fr McIntyre participated enthusiastically. An exchange of pulpits was arranged with the minister of Viewfield Church of Scotland on 'Unity Sunday' in January 1979. This arrangement was later expanded to include the Methodist Church, with which an annual exchange of pulpits still takes place in Christian Unity Week.

By the end of the decade, Fr McIntyre had laid all the new foundations to which he had aspired on coming to Holy Tininty in 1974. Of the period 1981-85. he wrote: "Having been at Holy Trinity for seven years, much of what was being done was mainly of a repetitive nature. Certainly, some new ideas or new approaches were introduced, or old ideas were given a fresh emphasis, but in the whole, thinking back, there was by now a kind of 'normality' about our regular worship; my pastoral visiting; my method of preaching; my wish to get more of the congregation involved in the sharing together of a corporate ministry; the nature of Vestry meetings; administration and concern over building maintenance; and other normal ecclesiastical activities."

Fr McIntyre had adopted the Experimental Liturgy of 1977 - known by the colour of its cover as “The Orange Book” - the first modern language Scottish liturgy to appear. He then went on to use “The Blue Book”, which appeared in 1982. This liturgy remains in use at Holy Trinity to this day. 

In 1985, Rev. Duncan Sladden left Stirling to become Rector of St Mark's, East Kilbride. However, the resulting gap was filled in the following year with the arrival of  Rev. Stuart M. Coates in a non-stipendiary ministry.

1986 was to be significant for two other reasons. One was a second mission from the Society of St Francis, which had been planned and prayed for throughout the previous two years. The other was Fr McIntyre's discovery that he was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's Disease. He expressed it in these terms: "It was on the 25th March 1986 - Lady Day - that I was told the result of the diagnosis. I had Parkinson's Disease. My reaction to that information was mixed. It can be a nerve-wracking experience anticipating a brain scan, wondering all the time what would show up on the scanner. So, my first reaction was to offer up a prayer to God of thanksgiving that it was ONLY P.D., and nothing worse. My next was to admit to my own ignorance about an ailment which, till then, I had associated with geriatric patients. I could not believe that, at the age of almost 49, one could have Parkinson's disease. I was certainly uncertain for the future, for my ministry long term, and even for the immediate affairs of Holy Week and Easter which would be upon me almost immediately, followed thereafter by the Franciscan Mission which had been arranged for April, post-Easter time."

The second Franciscan Mission took place over the period 6-20 April 1986. Its theme was 'The Key to Life'. During it, the congregation looked at themselves, with an emphasis on 'The Body of Christ'. The mission was led by a team of four, comprising Br Peter-Douglas (Team Leader), Br Christopher and Sr Jeanette-Margaret, all from the Order of St Francis, and Fr Robert Stretton of the Society of the Sacred Mission.

The team, house group leaders and congregation were commissioned by the Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, Rt Rev. Michael Geoffrey Hare-Duke, himself a member of the Tertiary Order of St Francis, on Sunday 6 April 1986. Holy Trinity was still part of the Diocese of Edinburgh at that time, but the Bishop, Rt Rev. Alastair I. M. Haggart, had recently retired and his successor had not yet been elected. It was therefore appropriate that Bishop Michael stand in.

The photograph shows, from left to right,
Fr McIntyre, 
Br Christopher,  
Bishop Michael,
Br Peter- Douglas,
Sr Jeanette- Margaret 
and Fr Robert Stretton.



The main events consisted of three Mission services conducted on the Sunday evenings, a social evening on the first Wednesday, a 'Question Time' panel game on the second Wednesday and, at the heart of the Mission, nine house groups which met twice per week. Attendance at all of these was most encouraging, especially the number of guests and visitors who joined the members of the congregation at house groups and other events.

The 'Question Time' panel was a distinguished one consisting of Iain Collie, Director of Education for Central Regional Council, Lord Kilbrandon, Rev. Dr Margaret Stewart of the Iona Community and Br Peter-Douglas. It was chaired by the local Methodist minister, Rev. J. Jones, who was chairman of the Stirling Council of Churches. When a debate arose over the ordination of women, strong views were expressed by members of the Mission Team, revealing that they held opposing positions on the issue (two for and two against). Fr McIntyre was disappointed that they had entered into this debate, particularly as it had previously been agreed to avoid the issue. For most people, however, the debate would simply have enlivened the evening.

The house groups were the main focal point of the Mission. The groups met four times and were led by members of Holy Trinity with a Team Member sitting in to assist. Four question papers were used in the groups, with the questions designed to make participants think more deeply about their faith, what it means to be a Christian - a member of the body of Christ - and how they could become more effective  members of that body. Altogether over 100 members of the congregation and guests took part. At the end of the fortnight, Br Peter-Douglas declared in a stirring address that the congregation's mission was now beginning. Several existing members of the congregation remember the 1986 Franciscan Mission and look back on it with great fondness. 

Franciscan missionThe photograph shows, from left to right, Stewart Palmer,
Sr Jeanette-Margaret, 
Br Christopher,  
Br Peter-Douglas and
Fr Robert Stretton on a visit to Stirling Castle.



House groups continued beyond the Franciscan Mission at Lent and for a two-year course following the '2/7' programme devised by an evangelical organisation called The Navigators. The name 2/7 was derived from Colossians 2:7.

Later in 1986, the Vestry decided to sell the Victorian Rectory at 18 Abercromby Place and buy a modern, easily-maintained house in Torbrex, not far from where the Episcopal congregation had gathered in meeting houses during the eighteenth century persecution. Fr McIntyre and his family moved into this house in November 1986.

The last seven years of Fr McIntyre's ministry were dominated by his valiant efforts to maintain his high standard of preaching and teaching despite his progressive deterioration in health due to Parkinson's Disease, for which treatment was much less effective then than it is now. A sound system was installed in the church so that his voice would still to be heard clearly if it started to fail. He also suffered the loss of his highly-valued non-stipendiary assistant, Rev. Stuart M. Coates, who left in 1989 to take up duties at St Mary's, Aberfoyle and at St Modoc's, Doune, where he became priest-in-charge in 1994.

However, there were still some high points. In 1990, Rev. Duncan Sladden retired from St Mark's, East Kilbride and, with his wife Margaret, moved to a house in Dunblane. This was of great help to Fr McIntyre, who recorded in April 1993, "Because of their past links with Holy Trinity, they came back into membership of our congregation and again their presence and friendship proved to be most supportive of what we were still trying to do at Holy Trinity. In particular, when it was decided that I would have to retire, on health grounds, Duncan agreed to take on the responsibility of the congregation until a new Rector was appointed." Their valuable contribution to life at Holy Trinity continues to this day and their daughter Kathleen jointly runs The Ark Imkerhof, a children's home and Bible school in Namibia, with which the congregation remains closely linked. 

Also in 1990, Rev. Alan Gray retired as Rector of St Ninians, Alyth, with St Catherine's, Blairgowrie, with St Anne's, Coupar Angus and moved to Stirling with his wife Caroline. They also joined the congregation and became much-valued members. They knew the area well as Rev. Gray had previously been Rector at St Andrew's, Callander (1966-74) and St John's, Alloa (1974-77). He was able to carry out priestly duties as well as bringing his strong singing voice to the choir.

In 1991, a most successful and strikingly beautiful Flower Festival was held, organised by the Women's Fellowship, who also involved members of other Stirling congregations. Although this Flower Festival was primarily intended to raise money for the Parkinson's Disease Society and Christian Aid, it also provided an opportunity Christians of different denominations to unite together and for general outreach to the people of Stirling.

Flower Festival

Flower Festival

 Flower Festival

 Images from the 1991 Flower Festival

In the same year, Holy Trinity was transferred from the Diocese of Edinburgh to the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, to become the responsibility of the Bishop, Rt Rev. Michael Geoffrey Hare-Duke, who had commissioned the Franciscan Mission Team in 1986.

At the beginning of August 1992, Fr McIntyre staged an outreach event called Come and See. It was intended to offer an open door to the public, inviting them to 'come and see' what the church was all about. It featured a display of the church's banners, a display from the Sunday School, old Minute Books and Registers, an area emphasising the importance of prayer, the playing of organ music at certain times, a bookstall and, throughout the church, beautiful floral arrangements.

Come and See was to be a final flourish for Fr McIntyre, who wrote: "During my summer holidays of 1992 I discovered that my walking had become worse than it had been, due to my Parkinson's Disease. I hoped that I could persevere for quite a while longer, but doubts about the wisdom of this were beginning to creep in. In January 1993 I attended the Diocesan Conference in Perth . . . It was obvious to the other clergy attending, including the bishop, that my health had deteriorated greatly in the past twelve months. In February the bishop visited me to ascertain how I really was keeping. It became inevitable that the question of how much longer I could continue to be Rector of Holy Trinity would arise. The bishop was most caring and sensitive towards me and more or less left the decision to me. At first I felt . . . that I wouldn't 'give up' before April 1994 which would be the 20th anniversary of my ministry here in Stirling. However, it became obvious to me after much prayer and consideration that it would be fairer - to the congregation, to Rachael, my wife, and to myself - to retire on health grounds much sooner than April 1994."

Fr McIntyre retired from 31 December 1993, but was on sick leave from 25 July. He preached his last Sunday sermon on 11 July, officiated at his last Sunday Eucharist on 18 July and performed his last duties as Rector of Holy Trinity, and as a priest of the Scottish Episcopal Church, at the service of Holy Communion on Friday 23 July 1993, following which he was presented with farewell gifts.

Rectory garden  

Fr McIntyre was well-respected on account of his liveliness, energy, hopeful disposition and forward-looking attitudes. The congregation was greatly saddened at his having to retire on health grounds at the age of 56. He left behind a 144-page account of his time at Holy Trinity entitled Personal Thoughts and Reflections on Twenty Years of Preaching and Teaching. This document makes clear the kind of preaching and teaching that lay at the centre of his ministry - Bible based, emphasising the role of prayer, encouraging membership participation and inspired by the spirit of renewal and revival. He expected his congregation to learn and to apply their knowledge long after he had departed. He would not have been disappointed.

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