Moderator in waiting tells of cancer battle

Rev Dr Angus Morrison and his wife Marion pictured at their home in Milnathort
Rev Dr Angus Morrison and his wife Marion pictured at their home in Milnathort

The Milnathort minister forced to withdraw from the Kirk’s top post two years ago says he’s now ‘in good spirits and ready’ to take up the job .

Rev Dr Angus Morrison, minister of Orwell and Portmoak parish, became the first Moderator Designate in the Church of Scotland’s history to step aside when he developed prostate cancer in 2013.

Last year, the Kirk’s General Assembly gave him a second chance to take up the role – and this month, he’ll be officially installed.

Dr Morrison, who lives in Milnathort with his wife Marion, a teacher in north east Fife, spoke movingly about his experience in the latest edition of the Church of Scotland magazine, ‘Life and Work’.

He said he’d made a full recovery from the major surgery he’d undergone in Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, and doctors were confident his treatment had been successful.

But he urged anyone who found themselves in a similar position to seek medical advice as soon as possible and not put it off, as he admits he did.

“I am a man who is very slow to go to the doctor with anything,” he said. “I would encourage anyone with worries about the same sort of thing to go as soon as possible and have it checked out. It can be easily treated.

‘‘The important thing is to have it treated in good time.”

Dr Morrison said he was humbled when the General Assembly of 2014 asked that he be considered for nomination in 2015 if his health permitted.

He had been the first Moderator-Designate in the memory of the Church to withdraw and it had not been an easy decision.

“It was so kind and gracious of the Assembly to give me the opportunity,” he said.

“It is a great honour and a great responsibility and I’m very indebted to it.”

His personal experience of the National Health Service has reinforced Dr Morrison’s determination to put hospices high on his Moderatorial agenda during the coming year.

“I have been hugely impressed with the hospices I have known, both on the islands and the mainland,” he commented.

“The care and compassion that’s shown in difficult situations is amazing. They always need our support.”

Born in Glencoe in 1953, Dr Morrison settled in Oban with his family at the age of 12 and, after completing a classics degree, he became a minister in the Free Presbyterian Church.

It was during his seven-year ministry in Oban that he met and married Marion, and the couple have four children, David (29), Judith (27), Robert (22) and James (17).

Judith married last year and, this summer, Dr Morrison will conduct David’s wedding.

The family moved to Edinburgh from Oban and, following a split in the Free Presbyterian Church, Dr Morrison served with the Associated Presbyterian Church for 11 years, during which he was also Moderator. It was while he was a minister in Stornoway that he became involved with the Church of Scotland and returned to the mainland.

Dr Morrison will be the first Gaelic speaker since 1969 to become Moderator.