A popular former minister of the oldest church in Inverness died in hospital in Glasgow early on Sunday morning, after a long battle with cancer, aged 74.
Reverend Colin Anderson’s tenure of the linked congregations of Inverness Old High and St Stephen’s lasted a little over eight years, but in that time, the modest ex-para officer, whose strong social conscience once led to his arrest on an anti-nuclear march, made an indelible mark.
Born in Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, he was educated at Glasgow Academy, Cambridge and Edinburgh and New York Universities. Between spells at university, he performed National Service as an education officer with the Parachute Regiment in the Middle East, qualifying for the coveted red beret and exclusive sky-blue parachute “wings” badge.
On demob he served briefly as a personnel officer in Leeds, before studying for and entering the ministry.
Licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, he served initially as assistant at Paisley Abbey, from 1967-68, before being ordained and inducted to Edinburgh Old Kirk, West Pilton.
Appointed industrial chaplain in Port Glasgow in 1975, he took over the charge of St Margaret’s Church, Greenock nine years later, demitting office in October 1989 on appointment as chaplain to Glasgow University.
Mr Anderson was inducted to Inverness Old High and St Stephens in November 1994, becoming also part-time chaplain to Inverness Prison and also serving for a year as Moderator of Inverness Presbytery.
Before the onset of illness, Mr Anderson was active in the peace movement Scottish Clergy Against Nuclear Arms, dedicated to thwarting the Government’s plans to replace the Trident nuclear deterrent on Clyde-based submarines.
In November 2006 he was one of a number of pastors of various denominations arrested for staging a blockade at the Faslane submarine base.
Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Very Reverend John Miller, a close friend for almost 50 years, said: “Colin Anderson was one of the most widely gifted ministers of his generation.
“Consistently concerned for people facing the difficulties of industrial and post-industrial society, he worked in a range of parishes and a variety of roles.
“When diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2008 he simply continued to fill his life with care for his family and friends and with interest and concern for the Church.
“He attended the opening of the General Assembly on 21st May, and died only a few days later in hospital, with his wife Helen at his bedside.”
Mr Anderson is survived by his wife Helen, whom he married in 1966, and his sons David, 42, and Peter, 40.
A private family burial on Friday will be followed by a memorial service in Wellington Church, Glasgow, at 3pm.
Reverend Colin MacEwen Anderson, born 20 May 1937, died 29 May 2011.