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Mr John Sutherland
Father of The Session
|Mr John Sutherland, "father of the Kirk
Session," is not only the oldest member in point of years but also in
length of service. He and the late Mr William McBeath (who passed away in
February, 1930) and the late Mr Andrew Mowat (who departed this life a
good many years ago) were ordained to the eldership on 13th April 1870 -
during the ministry of the Rev. Alexander Clark. Mr Sutherland as survivor
has thus given continuous service extending over fifty-one years.
John Sutherland Mrs John Sutherland
In all that long period his interest in the church has never flagged. He has been associated with every change and development in the life and work of the congregation since then. Among these may be mentioned the installation of the organ - at a time when the "kist o' whistles" was the scorn of many in other churches; the constitution of Thrumster Mission and the erection of the Mission Church and Manse there; the erection of a Church Hall in High Street; the opening up of the central area of the church by a passage leading up the Communion Table; the alterations and renovations carried out a year or two ago; and now hew is taking his part with us in the introduction of electric lighting and electric power for the organ. While these are outstanding improvements, there were numerous other details in which Mr Sutherland gave his never-failing assistance and ripe counsel.
Loving the Church of Scotland intensely, he is none the less wide in his sympathies, and appreciative of evengelical work wherever it is carried on. He has on several occasions been the representative elder of the Session to the Presbytery of Caithness and the Synod of Caithness and Sutherland; and he also held commissions to the General Assembly. These experiences afforded him opportunities of coming in touch with prominent leaders, and he recalls with admiration many notable speeches and pronouncements made in the Supreme Court of the Church. He remembers the eloquence of (among others) the Rev. Alfred Warr of Roseneath, father of the present minister of St Giles' Cathedral; and he tells how he often listened with great pleasure and cordial approval to impressive and dignified utterances on the floor of the Assembly by the late reverend Lord Balfour of Burleigh.
In the more stirring questions and controversies that came from time to time he was keenly interested, and so acquired a knowledge of, and insight into, our Scottish Presbyterian system that has all along enriched his counsel as a member of our Session. It is scarcely necessary to add that all his colleagues greatly respect Mr Sutherland. They respect him not only as "father" of the Session but also his genial Christian bearing and his long and faithful service to the cause of Christ in our midst.
If Mr Sutherland is "father of the Session," Mrs Sutherland, his good wife may be described as "mother of the Woman's Guild." All along the years Mrs Sutherland has most loyally and devotedly seconded and supported her husband in every effort for the welfare of the church and congregation. So also has each member of their family. Their combined record of good work in this connection is probably unique. Mrs Sutherland was for many years vice-president of the Woman's Guild and took a leading part in every scheme - bazaars, sales of work, and other efforts - to raise the necessary funds for all the improvements that have been carried out. With her husband she shares to the full the congregation's affection and respect; and it is a matter of keen gratification that those of their family who are at home continue to pursue the tradition of loyal helpfulness in relation to the church so long and so worthily set by their parents.